Is trash worth it?
An open letter to Halifax city council, regarding an ecology audit of HRM's garbage disposal system: My understanding is that HRM spends $340 million per year on garbage collection and disposal—the single largest item in the city budget. When you add in the time and money spent by citizens following the (dauntingly complex) rules at their end, you have a cost that must approach half a billion dollars annually. Is it worth it? What else could we do with that money?
My opinion—and that's what it is, an opinion—is that it is not worth it, even from the standpoint of purely ecological values. Human beings are facing an existential crisis that comes from global warming: There is no higher ecological priority than dealing aggressively with this problem. Keeping carbon emissions down, removing carbon from the atmosphere and storm-proofing our public infrastructure are all priorities that I rank well above the current objectives of HRM garbage disposal policy. Here I suggest revisions.
The goal should be to dispose of garbage in a convenient and effective way for all citizens, to encourage voluntary recycling, while cutting costs to, say, half the cost of the current program. The savings would then be devoted to higher-priority ecological objectives. Is this possible? I don't know: That's why we need an ecology audit of HRM Garbage disposal policy.
—Tom Vinci, Halifax
New year new view
Probably the most famous letter to the editor was that of eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon to the editor of New York's Sun, published Sep 21, 1897, which led to the editorial "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." The most important part of the letter really was: "Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun it's so," a statement that should still ring true for all newspapers, but now faces attack from false news and missing or misleading news. The world would be a better place if everybody wrote letters to the editor. The basis of this idea is aspirational: It would mean that all people could read, reason and write; they had sufficient leisure time to consider issues; they can afford a newspaper and a stamp, or have access to email; and more importantly they live in a world where it is safe to express an opinion openly. Too many voices are quashed either by fear or a lack of opportunity. I have written to many newspapers including many of the best (yours) and some of the lesser newspapers (theirs). The opportunity to read and compare newspapers and especially their editorials has allowed me to see issues from many viewpoints. There are many peaceful ways of advocating for a cause and letter writing should be one of the first to be used. We need to remind our leaders that they are meant to be inspirational and the best the country has to offer. —Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia
Power & the people
Many thanks to the Quebec Hydro crews for their all important help in restoring power to those who lost electricity in Halifax and across the province, from our recent "winter hurricane." Attached pic shows them at a Tims refuelling, Robie and Young Streets, prior to heading back to la Belle Province. —Phil McLaughlin, Halifax
Don't believe the Nova Scotia Power Outage reports, they badly under-report outages. I lost power at about 7pm on Thursday, Jan 4 due to the storm. All Lynn Drive, Fenwick Street, Clement Street and part of Hastings Drive in Dartmouth were without power. Over 60 houses, and on the outage site they reported less than five. This number did not change for the duration of the outage. I checked it every hour from my brother's house and the number never changed. —Rob, Dartmouth