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Going green: Momentum builds for environmental action

in Environment/Opinion by

Earth Hour was on March 30. Earth Day was April 22. Earth Week was April 21-27. But ask Pat Warren, chair of the Kawartha Lakes Environmental Advisory Committee (KLEAC), and she’ll have this to say: “Every day is Earth Day.”

She’s not alone in this belief. Momentum is building for environmental action. Over the past six months Council, City staff, and environmental heroes of all ages have been stepping up.

Here are 10 environmental initiatives worth celebrating.

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Putting the carbon tax through the spin cycle

in Opinion by

In 1946 George Orwell, the writer of 1984 wrote in his seminal Politics and the English Language that, “When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases … one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy, the appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain his not involved.”

But who is this Orwell? He probably took courses at university that were not tied to ‘performance outcomes’! He merely warned generations of the dangers of totalitarianism. Clearly not a man who was ‘open for business.’

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Teachers: For the people

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In the mid 1990s, while working at a newspaper as a young scribe, I wrote what I thought was a great story about a teacher who was taking a sabbatical. He was going to visit an overseas country and increase his learning and experience. He would inevitably accumulate new wisdom to bring back to future students one day.

Except that particular story never ran. I was told to get the ‘real’ story. How much was this going to cost? What sort of burden would this be to ‘taxpayers?’ The headline was altered, the focus shifted. In the end, the teacher and board of education were meant to feel shame for allowing such a thing to happen. I was embarrassed to see my name on that byline.

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“Who from their labours rest:” Lindsay factory workers reminisce

in Just in Time/Opinion by
“Who from their labours rest:” Lindsay factory workers reminisce

Picture it. It’s mid-May of 1919, and you’re a 12 or 13-year-old frolicking in the waters of the Scugog River at the foot of Georgian Street – not too far from where William Purdy and his sons constructed a dam some nine decades before. A little to the west, the tall stone edifice of a flour and feed mill constructed in 1869 casts a shadow over the locks. It’s one of many manufacturing facilities which have sprouted along both banks of the river and beyond in the half century that Lindsay has been called a Town.

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Dandelion days: What will you have to drink?

in Environment/Opinion by

It was a warm spring day at our food co-op as we ran the annual plant exchange. Gardeners with overflowing yards had dropped off excess plants and cuttings, and now those in need of greenery were choosing which plants they would like to take home.

“Excuse me,” said a hesitant voice, “I’m looking for some help with dandelions.” It was one of the neighbours from down the block. “I really need to find a way to deal with all the dandelions in my grass.”

My colleague and I shared a glance. “Well,” I said, “You could always leave them. They are one of the earliest sources of pollen for bees, and they are fun for the kids to pick. You could also eat their leaves.”

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Water in plastic: Who’s most responsible in the drive for endless growth?

in Environment/Opinion by
Water in plastic: Who’s most responsible in the drive for endless growth?

It was a peaceful climate justice protest organized by a high school student inspired by activist Greta Thunberg. A man approached us to say he fully supported what we were doing; and in the next breath said he hoped we didn’t think the carbon tax was going to make a difference. A fellow protester asked him what approach we should take: “Reduce, reuse and recycle. Just like we’ve always done.” Our visitor then jumped into his car and drove away.

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What we leave behind: On growing up in Lindsay

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What we leave behind: On growing up in Lindsay
Queen Victoria P.S. today. Photo: Erin Smith.

They call it ‘relative poverty.’ Growing up in Lindsay in the east end in the 1970s and early 80s, we didn’t have much money. Mom ensured we didn’t miss any meals and she always did her very best, but I know there were some field trips my younger brother and I missed out on, and our clothing wasn’t always the latest and greatest.

Atari became a thing in my generation, but it was something I would experience only at a friend’s house. Most of the time for fun we did other things, like watch mile-long freight trains inch across Queen Street, hoping they flattened our pennies into new possibilities.

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Mental health training is available to all of us

in Health/Opinion by

The desire to help and the hope that we can provide direction, care, or support to someone that may be struggling is inherent in many of us. Whether it is a family member, friend, or even a neighbour, when we see a loved one experiencing mental distress most of us are genuinely inclined to help.

Quite often two things keep us from offering that support: We are either 1) Not sure what we’re supposed to do or 2) We’re afraid if we do something, we’re going to end up worsening the situation.

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Marsh at Colborne and Hwy 35 formed while development stalled

in Environment/Opinion by
Marsh at Colborne and Hwy 35 formed while development stalled

Most residents of Lindsay are well aware of the construction efforts taking place at Colborne street and highway 35. Talk of a new Walmart, along with plans for more housing is making this a hot topic.

However, it is fair to say that many people are probably unaware of the finer details of the whole matter.

When topsoil was removed from the site some 10-15 years ago, a layer of clay from beneath the ground was exposed, which allowed spring rainwater to pool and accumulate. Over time, this formed a small marsh, which has now become home to numerous species of plants and wildlife. Some of these species are plants like Asters, Reeds, Horsetails and Water Plantain. In addition, Raccoons, Muskrats and Coyotes have also chosen to call the marsh home.

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We should go back to the future and risk being great

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Good urban planning “is a gift of its designers...to the future.” Photo: Roderick Benns.

In 1834, a town plan for Lindsay was envisioned on what was then nothing more than a cedar swamp. The planners envisioned something different, and grander than the Purdy Mills hamlet which had been established south of the Scugog River almost 15 years previously.

Kent and Victoria Streets were designed to be one and a half times wider than the standard 66-foot right of way. As the final report on Downtown Heritage Conservation District notes, this was done “presumably to highlight their importance but also to make maneuvering horses and carts that much easier.”

So urban planning for this area of our city has, from its very outset, consisted of a blend of anticipating future transit needs and a vision of something bigger and special.

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