Grab your garbage bags, Sturgeon Falls residents, it's clean up time

·4 min read

The Sturgeon Falls Beautification Group is cleaning up the town this Saturday, and everyone is welcome to help. More volunteers mean more garbage off the streets, and the action begins at 1 p.m. at the St. Mary Magdalene Church at 261 King Street in Sturgeon Falls.

Garbage bags and vinyl gloves will be provided for free to volunteers at the church, but pickers might want to bring their own work gloves for the job ahead. Also, rubber boots are recommended, and perhaps even some grabbers for those who may not want to bend too often.

If the day gets washed out by rain, the cleanup will take place on Sunday, May 1st. Keep an eye on the Sturgeon Falls Beautification Group’s Facebook page for updates and details.

Gayle Primeau is the founder and leader of the Beautification Group and for her, keeping the town ship-shape is not merely a once-a-year event. She’s keeping things clean throughout the year, and also works on a number of projects throughout Sturgeon Falls to beautify the area.

See: Beautification group hooks onto Stella Sturgeon

Primeau also encourages people to adopt an area in town that they will keep clean throughout the year. Last year she had 147 areas adopted, and this year she was hoping to increase that number. Already, her list of adopted areas has grown to 170.

These areas are different in size and shape—there is no distinct, set-in-stone definition of what an area entails. For example, someone will contact Primeau and mention they live on 4th Street, but someone may already be looking after 4th, so Primeau will look through her notes, see that Holditch St. could use a hand, and with a stroke of the pen another area has been adopted.

She’s impressed with the volunteerism within the community, and the amount of people helping to make the town a better place to live. “It’s nice to see that the residents are really involved.”

Many of the volunteers post pictures of their cleanups to the Facebook page and send photos to Primeau directly as well. One of the more disturbing trends over the past years is an increase in drinking and driving along the back roads. People are finding a lot of empty beer and liquor bottles in the ditches.

“It’s sad” she said, not only that drinking and driving is on the rise, but also the amount of litter in well-frequented areas is increasing as well. Some volunteers pick up trash every week and will spend over an hour collecting refuse.

“But there are some good points,” she reassured, noting that some volunteers have mentioned their areas have improved as of late. “But there is still dumping that’s happening,” most often in the more secluded areas of the municipality.

At one time, Primeau was looking after Minnehaha Bay, and the amount of trash was nothing to be proud of. “People were dumping couches, satellite dishes, lots of plastic,” she recalled. “I don’t understand the mentality. If you’re going to take the time to put this in your truck, then why don’t you go to the dump?”

Primeau explained that a large part of the group’s mission is to educate people about the negative affects littering has on the environment and one’s community, but clearly this message is too much for some people to understand, and the littering continues.

Thankfully, more civic minded people continue to help combat the trash. “It seems to be growing every year,” Primeau said of the cause. She formed the group in 2017, and at that time it was just herself, “and then there were four, and it just grew and grew.” Currently, the group’s Facebook page has 2.4 thousand members, so the community support is growing.

Primeau remains motivated to beautify the town. “I have a vision for the town,” she said. “I think this area is a gem, with such nice people in the community,” and one day she simply decided to make a change to better her environment. “I decided to take a broom and start cleaning,” the streets downtown, “and that’s basically how it started.”

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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