My letter to the editor concerning the Salvation Army’s challenges dealing with the junk dropped on their premises was published yesterday in the Beacon Star. Here’s a link to the letter as well as a front page article reporting on the same issue.

I won’t repeat my arguments here but I’ll offer a little more information regarding my perspective. I tried to keep the letter short, well sort of, and didn’t go into some related issues that others have raised. I suggest you read the letter to get some perspective on the comments that follow.

1. Yes some of the junk is surely being dumped by people outside of Parry Sound. But that’s a problem not ‘fixable’ by Parry Sound council and staff, at least not until we take care of our part of the problem. At that point we can ask surrounding communities to address their part of the problem.

2. We need to remember that the garbage disposal rules and regulations are intended to benefit the community, not be a punishment or torture. If as a community we need more service we need to ask for it. It may imply a higher cost, but on balance that may be worth the price. I’m in no position to judge whether this is something Parry Sound should consider, but it is obvious from the challenges faced by the Salvation Army that disposing of garbage is an issue for at least some people in our community.

3. Yes some people may ‘abuse’ the system. The strict limits on how much garbage can be set at the curb weekly is intended to limit the amount of waste and the cost. I’m not suggesting we raise the two bag (items?) limit, rather I’d like to see some flexibility on what is picked up. If the town doesn’t arrange to have the garbage picked up it will be dumped – at the Salvation Army, a ditch or in a municipal garbage pail. Garbage doesn’t disappear, it get’s hidden. And unless Parry Sound becomes a ‘transfer station’ for garbage, that is people ‘smuggle’ garbage into town to dispose of it, we are only likely to be taking care of our own mess. Abuse of the system shouldn’t be too hard to detect.

4. Having once or twice yearly pickup of larger items could be a real help to people in clearing out their junk. At best it makes for tidier homes, at worse it stimulates people to dump something old and get something new. And I will bet that people will be happy to dispose of old electronics they are unable to ‘carry’ or ‘cart’ to the transfer station’s e-recycling bin. That old 75 pound TV perhaps?

5. We need to acknowledge that the Salvation Army does reduce the town’s garbage by recycling items that are no longer needed and others can use. There are many people downsizing their homes, or dealing with an estate, who are more than happy to see items are passed on to those who can use them. If not for the Salvation Army what would people do? I suspect much of it would end up in the garbage and that’s not good for the town or the environment, especially when there are others who could use the items.

About the Salvation Army; they and a number of other organizations provide valuable support to the Town of Parry Sound. Let’s not make their job any more difficult by requiring them to become experts in garbage disposal.