Iqaluit’s compost king clarifies views


Your article in last week’s paper was well written but it expressed my feelings just a little too well.

I was indeed upset but not at our mayor or the minister of the environment, and certainly not at the premier. All three individuals have my respect, as do the many hard-working folks at City Hall many of whom I consider friends.

The truth is I actually discouraged Elisapee and Olayuk from signing up to our composting program after they came forward at last year’s trade show. At the time we were still very much in an experimentation mode.

I apologize to them sincerely if your readers got the impression they were not supportive of our work.

A very efficient system is now in place thanks to the perseverance of some dedicated families who were patient enough to act as guinea pigs over the last few years. I would like to add that Elisapee is currently a member of our society and diverts her family’s organic waste for composting.

In 2001, our premier thought Iqaluit was too cold to compost. His skepticism was no different than that of a well-paid consulting engineer hired by the city around the same time and he had years of experience designing southern composting facilities. But there is more than one way to skin a caribou.

In this case, trying to use southern technology here is a mistake. We have a remarkable resource that the South doesn’t — cold. If we embrace our Arctic climate and let it work for us, many things suddenly and surprisingly become affordable. I know composting is not only possible here but I believe it truly holds the promise of a considerable financial saving for the city with huge spin-off benefits for the entire community.

I regret what seems to be a combative attitude, but it has been nurtured by the gatekeepers at Fortress City Hall over the last few years. I’ve watched the systematic degradation of our community’s goodwill on a broad range of issues while the city’s Solid Waste Steering Committee has been reduced to a “rubber stamp” committee only being able to offer input after the fact.

A case in point is the administrative decision to disallow junked vehicles at the landfill. It’s no wonder so few people are willing to serve on the committee.

If the true merits of this new approach are to be fully understood, a professional cost-benefit analysis is required. If the city sincerely wants to make the best of our dire financial circumstances, composting not only holds the promise of improving our community’s civic pride but also the city’s bottom line.

Additionally, with a commitment to long-term responsible waste management “incrementally” instead of throwing money here and there at the problem, a healthy list of funding sources would soon offer their support, pushing any direct financial requirement by the city well into the future.

At the same time, I am convinced all the untapped energy and goodwill I see throughout our community would happily bolster and promote real responsible waste management initiatives throughout our city.

Jim Little, Coordinator
The Bill Mackenzie Humanitarian Society

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