Impressed with the work of a group of local Grades 6 to 8 students, the town’s elected officials awarded them with a certificate of appreciation last week.
“I want to say how proud the town is of your efforts,” mayor Ross Forrest told the students, during a break in classes, Wednesday, October 12. “We’ve spent a lot of time at yesterday’s council meeting talking about composting, and we’re learning a lot from you guys.”
Forrest was joined by councillor Bob Day in commending the students on behalf of the Town of Lake Cowichan.
The group of students are part of Lake Cowichan Secondary School’s STAR(4)C Raving Mad for the Environment program; an acronym standing for Students Taking Action by Recycling, Reducing, Reusing, and Refusing, and Composting. The program started up in September of this year, and has already proven itself a phenomenal success.
In September, students collected 190 kilograms of waste, of which 97 kg was composted, 21 kg was recycled, and only 72 kg went to the landfill.
The key to success has been making all students in the school spend a moment to think about recycling. All garbage cans in the school have been replaced by smaller bins; one for organic waste, and the other meant for refuse destined for a landfill.
A group of students spend a half hour every day sorting through the material with rubber gloves, ensuring that their peers were correct in their assessment of organic and non-organic waste.
The certificate of appreciation mayor and council presented to the students represents this environmental effort, reading, “By being good environmental stewards in the Town of Lake Cowichan.”
“You guys are setting us a fine example,” councillor Bob Day told the students.
The councillor and mayor weren’t merely being polite during their meeting with the students. The Tuesday, October 11, council meeting was indeed heavy on discussions around composting and other environmental endeavours, inspired in large part by the STAR(4)C Raving Mad program.
“These statistics from the high school are indicative of what can be done,” Forrest said, during the meeting, in encouraging composting in town.
“This is an excellent program,” councillor Tim McGonigle said, in agreement. “It’s good to see these numbers.”
Although mayor and council are unanimous in their agreement that the town should take part in composting, to what degree is financially feasible is the key question.
Judging from discussions during recent council meetings, curbside compost collections won’t be seriously discussed until the town’s current garbage truck is due for replacement, during which time the replacement truck can have an organic waste collection area.
Purchasing a separate truck, right now, would be too costly an endeavour.
“We’re not going curbside today, so it would be best to promote in-home composting,” the town’s superintendent of Public Works Nagi Rizk encouraged.
During their October 12 meeting with Lake Cowichan Secondary School’s STAR(4)C program students, Forrest and Day inquired into whether the school is interested in expanding its program to take in organic waste from the Lakeview Park Campground, which is owned and operated by the town.
Teacher Michelle Taylor, who is facilitating the program, said that it’s a possibility, pending the town help create more composting space at the school.
This composting expansion will be talked about in the coming weeks.
Lake Cowichan Secondary School’s STAR(4)C Raving Mad program was sparked by a $12,000 Neighbourhood of Learning grant the school received, as a result of a partnership between the school district and the Town of Lake Cowichan.
This grant has helped pay for greenhouse upgrades, with Mr. Pimenta and his Grade 10/11 shops classes making vast improvements upon the previously dilapidated structure.
The greenhouse should see fruit and vegetables planted some time in the spring.
The same applies to a community garden area, which will also be operational by spring.