Small Towns Wrestle with the Plastics Puzzle

For Sean Stepchuk, the North Saskatchewan River valley outside of his home in Edmonton, Alberta, is one of his favourite places to explore. The river valley, which is North America’s largest urban parkland, offers stunning views, beautiful paths for walking and biking, and even an edible forest full of wild asparagus, onions, mushrooms, and berries for those who know where to look.

One thing Sean doesn’t like to see while in nature: litter from single use plastics. 

Single use plastics like coffee cups, takeout containers, and plastic straws and utensils, often used for just for a few minutes before being thrown into the trash, create a lot of waste. These plastics seem to be everywhere. 

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Many Hands Build a Home

Sometimes an event is so significant that a person’s life divides into everything that happened before and everything that happened after that moment. For Peter Beliveau of Grand Forks, British Columbia, that moment was when his car rolled over when he was 21, just outside of town. Peter was lucky to walk away from the accident with his life, although he didn’t walk right away as he experienced damage to his spinal cord. 

“I got in a car accident, broke my neck and stayed in the hospital, and when I could sort of walk again, I wanted to travel overseas.” 

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If You Build It, Great Things Will Come

Driving north along Highway 401 in southern Ontario (more simply known as the four-oh-one to those who drive it daily) you might pass a little community called Ingersoll.

Ingersoll is the type of town that you might not notice while driving the busy 12 lane highway, that is unless you know that it is one of the stops on the Oxford County Cheese Trail, and is home to Canadian Automotive Manufacturing Inc. (CAMI)

General Motors (GM) Canada, which now owns the CAMI Assembly Plant, is the main business in town. At the beginning of the year, GM announced that they are committing $1 billion to convert Ingersoll’s long-standing automotive plant to become Canada’s first large scale electric vehicle manufacturing plant. This was huge news for the community of 13,000 people, many of whom work at the plant.

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Skate where the ice is

When Grant Kelly and his buddies in Invermere, British Columbia, found out that their men’s hockey league would be shut down because of Covid-19, they weren’t sure how they were going to make it through the winter. 

“December 2nd was a sad day,” Grant recalls. “It’s been an interesting year since then.”

Before moving to Invermere 20 years ago, Grant lived in Calgary, Alberta, and he grew up in the Gatineau region of Quebec. But no matter where he finds himself, hockey is the home he returns to every winter. 

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Clear Sidewalks and Close Neighbours

Shovelling snow is a chore as familiar to most Canadians as folding laundry. 

Some shovellers enjoy waking before dawn like a song sparrow in spring. They are the first ones to make that crunchy rhythmic chorus that will soon be echoed by the rest of the block.

Others swear under their breath and begrudgingly set their morning alarm an hour earlier than normal as the next morning’s forecast sinks in. They’ll need to walk the dog, make lunches, drag the kids out of bed, put out the trash, and shovel several inches of snow to get everyone out the door by 8 a.m.

Wherever you may fall on the snow shovelling spectrum, however, you’d be lying if the thought of rolling out of bed, slipping on some Sorels, and firing up a snow blower has never crossed your mind. 

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When Life Gives you Lemons, Plant Flowers

Let’s start the year off right by looking at the silver lining. Most of us are over the moon to be starting a new year. 2020 will go down in history as a uniquely challenging year for most communities worldwide with the Covid-19 pandemic and the hardships following in its wake. So let’s celebrate the good people of one creative and resilient community. 

Trail, British Columbia, exemplifies the words community pride. This small city, which is about as south as you can get in BC before hitting the United States border (an 18-minute drive to be precise), is home to remarkable residents who have greatly improved their city over the last two decades. 

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Local Brewers Craft for Community

You are sitting at your favourite bar in town watching the bartender pour that familiar winter ale that always signals the beginning of ski season. As you wait for them to slide that frosty mug of beer down your direction, you probably aren’t thinking about hop farmers, or the ways the brewery is trying to cut back on water consumption, or what happens to all the grain at the bottom of the fermentation tanks. 

For Hedin Nelson-Chorney, owner of Tailout Brewing in Castlegar, British Columbia, he knows all too well that beer and the environment go hand in hand. As a former employee of Parks Canada, with a Masters degree in Conservation Biology, Hedin has a deep understanding of the importance of treating the land well.

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Creston Farmers Feed Community

Coming together to build healthy and sustainable communities in ways that do not leave anyone behind feels crucial in times like these. In Creston, British Columbia, farmers are doing this the best way they know how, by feeding their fellow neighbours using unique and resourceful approaches.     

Laura Francis and her husband Nigel were on their way to the University of Victoria to attend his first year of law school when they made a stop in Creston. It was meant to be a sort of vacation before committing to the long and tedious pursuit of attaining a law degree. The community had other plans for the young couple. Halfway through their vacation, Laura recalls the owner of the cabin they were renting inviting 13 people to dinner one evening.

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Pandemic Inspires Gardeners

This spring, Gina and her husband Rob, from Trail, British Columbia, planned to travel as they do each year as retirees, when the news of COVID-19 turned their plans upside down. They had intended to travel from the Arctic to Mexico in their RV meeting people who make a difference in their communities and sharing these stories on social media.

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