Waste committee trashes the Compost King

“I feel like I’m being treated like the enemy”

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Iqaluit’s king of compost has been kicked off the city’s waste management committee after he described city officials as “a bunch of morons.”
City staff have also told Jim Little they want him to stop composting at the city landfill, leaving him wondering where he should dump the five tons of rotting garbage he’s collected.

“I don’t know what we’ll do. I have no clue,” said Little, who has collected the discarded apple cores, wilted lettuce and other organic waste of about 100 families in Iqaluit since 2004, which he composts in a corner of Iqaluit’s quickly-filling dump.

But that space will be needed by the city in the upcoming year, so Little will have to clear out, according to a letter written to Little by Mark Hall, the city’s director of public works. Little says he received that letter on the same day Nunatsiaq News published an article that included Little’s criticism of the city’s councillors and administration, leaving him to wonder if he’s being punished for his remarks.

“I feel like I’m being treated like the enemy,” he said.

A package of documents prepared for this week’s city council meeting contained a draft letter addressed to Little, explaining he had been removed from the waste management committee, which he has sat on as a member of the public since 2001.

Nancy Gillis, who chairs the committee, said she wouldn’t comment on the decision to remove Little until he received the letter in the mail.

As for Little, he says he won’t miss the duty much — he describes the committee’s main purpose as to “rubber stamp” decisions made by the city’s administration.

“It’s like we’re sitting in Bolivia. They can do whatever they want,” he said.

For instance, he’s upset by council’s recent decision to charge residents $35 to dispose of automobile batteries.

Little says he’s concerned residents will decide to save themselves money and throw out their car batteries with the rest of their garbage. Those batteries contain lead and other poisonous chemicals, which could leach into the soil.

He says those dump fees should have been reviewed by the committee before it went forward to council. Instead, the fees were presented by Mark Hall during a public works meeting, then approved by council.

“It just destroys the goodwill of the community,” he said. “They just turn around and do what they want to do.”

But Little’s biggest concern is that his falling out with council could jeopardize his compost dream: to convince the city to use sludge produced by the city’s new sewage treatment plant to make more compost, rather than dumping the sludge into Frobisher Bay or packing it in the landfill.

He figures city-wide composting could redirect one-quarter of all waste headed for the landfill, and that this could save the city money in the longterm.

“They’d be saving a lot of landfill space. And that’s got to have a value,” he said.

If removing Little from the committee was meant to slow his stream of invective aimed at the city, it hasn’t worked.

“It’s beyond a joke. It’s total incompetence,” he said

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