N.E.A.T. Looking to Engage Again in Tumbler Ridge

Lynsey Kitching
The Northern Environmental Action Team (N.E.A.T) is hoping to once again have a presence in Tumbler Ridge. N.E.A.T used to be present here, however, when the community member involved with the program moved away, the program left as well.
There has now been a resurgence of N.E.A.T throughout the Peace River regional district especially in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Chetwynd. Jen Slater, from N.E.A.T came to Tumbler Ridge to talk to council about a few of their initiatives. “I went through our LED light exchange that is coming up in November. We are doing it in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Chetwynd. BC Hydro has sponsored us for this program,” she continues, “What we want to do is encourage people to use more energy efficient lighting during the holidays, and to properly dispose of their old lights. In Chetwynd, we hold an event at Home Hardware. You can bring in your old lights for recycling and I’ll take them and make sure they get recycled. Participants get a free pack of LEDs.”
Though this program won’t be running in Tumbler Ridge this season, there are other options to get N.E.A.T working for us. Slater says, “We also do school programs. We go into the local schools and talk about anything from waste reduction, composting and energy and water conservation. We do all grade levels.”
N.E.A.T would like to have a presence again in Tumbler Ridge, and says in the early stages the town wouldn’t need a community representative. Slater says, “We are funded largely by the Peace River regional district. That is who would be funding the extra time for me to come in from Chetwynd, or our Dawson Creek Eco-advisor could come into Tumbler Ridge to do programs. We would schedule a couple days a month to do what is needed.”
Slater explains if next year Tumbler Ridge was interested in the LED light exchange, that N.E.A.T would be looking for a local business to be a partner. Slater says, “In Fort St. John, the hardware store kicked in half the cost for the lights.”
The Christmas lights are taken to the local recycling depot and then they are shipped off. In Tumbler Ridge, having the ability to recycle different materials could be beneficial. Slater says, “I know Tumbler Ridge is lacking in as far as what can be recycled. There is not really an electronic program or anything like that,” she continues, explaining a program for electronic recycling, “We have held roundup days, and would love to do that Tumbler Ridge as well.  We go for the day and we take all old electronics and make sure they get sent off to the Eco—depot for recycling.”
The last initiative brought to council gained some consideration. This program revolves around making it more convenient for people living in multi-unit dwellings to recycle. Mayor Darwin Wren says, “There is an interest in trying to do something with blue boxes. To start, we would have to identify one area and then do a pilot like in Chetwynd.”
The pilot project in Chetwynd is still in the process. Slater says, “We put some recycling bins in the multi-family dwellings. They weren’t getting used to what they should be. We were thinking about pulling them out because it was a waste of time,” she continues, “We did a research project to see if we gave everyone a free blue bin in their apartment if it would help keep recycling organized. A lot of people in apartments don’t have the room to put anything. We don’t have the actual numbers yet, but I check on them and they are almost full every week. The number of people recycling has gone up drastically. It is free; no one has to pay for it.”
Slater says they will have the official numbers at the end of the six month trial. She says, “If the regional district finds it is a successful program, we’ll look at implementing it in different communities as well. In Tumbler Ridge there aren’t recycling bins in individual apartments, which would be where we need to start.”
Mayor Wren says, “I think that’s where we’ll go with that, just to see what kind of uptake we get. We have the recycling over here where people bring their stuff and I don’t know what our successes are like. There’s no way of gagging what percent of people are using it. Whereas, I think if we use these blue boxes, put 50 of them out, we’ll have a better idea.”
Mayor Wren goes on to explain why the town would really need to look at all the contributing factors when deciding on ‘green’ initiatives. He says, “We have to look at the costs involved and weigh that out. Sometime’s there are initiatives out there that we think are green, they make us feel good, but if you actually calculate all the carbon credits into what you’re doing, it may not be. Those things have to be calculated.”
In conclusion, Slater says, “All our services are free, funded by regional district. If there’s anyone who wants some projects done or has a good idea for a program, by all means give us a call. We would love to be in Tumbler Ridge more.”
Tumbler Ridge recycling will be featured in November 20 issue.