Personal Best: Blue box fiasco continues

First the bad news! The blue box fiasco seems to be progressing despite facts, common sense, protests and the will of the people. Please let us remember who put this insane piece of action in place when the next election is called.

Apparently, according to the Regional District of the North Okanagan, there is no backing away from Multi Material BC which has been mandated by the provincial government to take over residential recycling services from local jurisdictions. Despite this authoritarian decree from the province, in my opinion, there is still a role to be played by RDNO and City of Vernon Council. If a number of citizens of this city and Greater Vernon are being excluded from this new recycling program because of age or physical abilities it becomes the concern of all our elected officials to voice the issue and seek a better solution.

There is no doubt that the new system will destroy years of recycling practices and all the material will end up at the dump. Years ago when I lived in Ontario we used these blue boxes, and papers and other material were always blowing around and had to be picked up. Someone suggested putting bottles on top to weigh down the papers, but wait a minute, you cannot put glass bottles in the blue box or plastic foam packaging or plastic bags or overwrap etc. etc.

I urge all those who will be affected by the blue boxes to express their concerns to our premier, local MLA Eric Foster, and to call the Regional District and City Hall to urge them to discuss this issue and bring it to the attention of the provincial government. Phone numbers and addresses are in the phone book.

Now the good news! It is May and sunny and shining in our beautiful Okanagan when we once again reaffirm our brilliant decisions to be born or move here, a place inhabited for thousands of years before us by the aboriginal Okanagan people. Last week I attended the Expressions of Aboriginal People and Culture Week sponsored by the Aboriginal Education Department of School District #22 and it was inspiring. Mostly Grade 4 students, but some Grades 3 and 5 as well from all 14 elementary schools spent the day learning the history, practices, stories and philosophy of the Okanagan nation. Games and dancing were also on the agenda and played enthusiastically by the kids. What was inspiring was to see the curiosity and interest expressed and the enthusiasm of the more than 980 kids that attended the four host schools over the four-day period along with elders from the Okanagan and other elders from all over Canada who now reside here.

Attitudes are the hardest things to change and a challenge that requires great perseverance and common sense. The latest figures in the household travel survey conducted by Acuere Consulting show a rise of merely .6 per cent of those who take transit, school bus, walking, cycling and other forms of transportation from 2007 to 2013 while the number of drivers has also increased from 69.4 per cent to 70 per cent.

The goal of the City’s Transportation Committee was to try to change public attitudes and increase walking, cycling and public transit and thereby decreasing automobile traffic, and a fair amount of money has been invested in this. However, changing attitudes is never easy and acknowledging reality is essential. Future demographics show the population at more than 35 per cent over 65 by the year 2038 so that reducing HandyDart or the Taxi Assistance services is futile as some older seniors or those with disabilities still cannot walk to the bus or their destinations after traveling by public transit, especially in winter. This will never change and as the population ages we must acknowledge this reality.

Pat Black writes about issues of concern to North Okanagan seniors, appearing every other Sunday.

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