Saturday, June 27, 2015


Due to technical difficulties with the Jerome Irwin article, I have posted this letter to the North Shore News editor from last week because it is a similar topic: The issue of changing the names by local governments of beloved neighbourhoods and facilities that needs either more public consultation or no change at all.

Who was William Griffin?

Before renaming the rec centre, let’s learn why his name is on it

 Why is it we find other people’s history fascinating, yet seem so dismissive of our own? North Vancouver District Council is contemplating changing the name of the William Griffin Recreation Centre, apparently because no one around the council table can recall very much about the man. I would think it is safe to assume that his contributions to the community must have been considerable for the council of the 1970s to think it proper to name a major public facility after him. So why have we forgotten, and why do we not even think it worthwhile to rediscover a leading citizen of the past? These stories are important because they tell us about the people who helped get us to where we are today. They are part of the truth of our collective story. How hard would it be to hire a summer intern or co-op history student, to research all the people our public spaces are named for? The findings could be posted at the entrances of parks, swimming pools and schools, so that we could all connect the name with the person, and learn something about our community’s history. In this way we could add a richness to where we live, the kind of thing we admire in other cities where history is kept very much alive.

North Vancouver

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cigarette Butt Epidemic Demands More Media Messaging by Governments

The Lynn Valley brush fire caused by a carelessly tossed cigarette butt, is just one example of the negative effect of butts in our community.  Not only are butts a major cause of fires, they are toxic to the environment, in fact the most prevalent form of litter on earth. World waterways are contaminated with 1.7 billion pounds of butts annually.   Such a tiny little item is having a huge negative impact. 

During the rainy season, butts float along streets, down storm drains; small enough to bypass catchment areas, they enter local creeks and shorelines.  Butts are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, which can take 25 years to decompose. Filters, specially designed to accumulate toxins, leach out, each containing up to 1,400 chemicals, lethal to species of fish, shorebirds, crustaceans &plankton. 

Sadly, the root of the problem is the well-intended smoke free policies that have led to an absence of ash trays everywhere, even in cars, the additional $100 cost for ashtrays prevents smokers from asking.   In July 2013, there were 28 roadside fires along the Parkway from butts discarded from vehicles.  Smoke free bylaws are just about everywhere, but they are never enforced. Toxic smoke lasts about 5 minutes in the air then dissipates, toxic butts last up to 25 years.

Vancouver Coastal Health states that only 8% of people smoke.  I guarantee, evident in the butt epidemic, about 95% of those smokers toss irresponsibly. On Feb. 28th, I picked up 1142 butts  at Waterfront Park and  1 butt can pollute 30 litres of water! Do the math!  Yet our Provincial, Federal and Municipalgovernment web sites and mainstream media are absent of any messaging  regarding this tragic epidemic.   PLEASE ask for a pocket ashtray when you purchase your smokes!  If you want to get involved in our Cigarette Butt Free Communities Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me.

Elise Roberts
Litter Free Communities/ Cigarette Butt Free Campaign