Anti-Litter sign near Shubenacadie. Ettinger photo.

Volunteers continue to clean up litter at Exit 10; Municipality of East Hants staff investigating options

By Luke Ettinger, Journalism student

SHUBENACADIE: Remi Roy has cleaned up litter near Highway 102 Exit 10 for almost 23 years.

“It started bothering me,” Roy said. “There is no fast food here, so there is no reason why we get all the extra Tim Horton’s cups and wrappers from Subway,” he said.

Exit 10 Shubenacadie is a part of the provinces volunteer driven Adopt-A-Highway program to clean up litter. Through the program a sign is placed along a section of road when it has been adopted by a community group or individual.

Roy said he inquired about an Adopt-A-Highway sign for the area 15 years ago and the program put up a sign with his name on it. He said after the sign went up garbage began to appear on his property.

“I started being the target,” Roy said adding, “they associated the name with my place of residence.” He said it was discouraging and asked Adopt-A-Highway to take the sign down.

Roy said he continued to clean up litter near Exit 10 and in other areas of the community.

During the pandemic he has stopped collecting garbage, instead he is raking it into piles and leaving it there. “It has more effect to leave the garbage then people realize how much garbage is there,” he said.   

Community members like Karen and Josie Thompson have also picked up after “litter bugs” at Exit 10.

Photo: Josie Thompson cleans up litter with her mother, Karen, near Exit 10 Shubenacadie. In August, they filled two bags of garbage with items like receipts, boxes, take out containers and cigarettes (Contributed Photo).

 Josie said they clean up the area one to two times a month and find fast food packaging, beer cans, needles and even one bag of animal carcases.

“There is no point in littering, you are turning our village into a place that looks like a dump, have respect for the environment, at the rate we are going it’s not going to last forever,” Josie said. 

Municipality staff will investigate ways to reduce litter to reinforce a sense of community pride in East Hants. The Infrastructure and Operations Committee recommended council direct staff to investigate litter reduction programs.

The motion was passed unanimously by Council in December. It says staff should work with various community groups in East Hants “to establish a program to address the problem of littering around highway exits and other roadways.”

Councillor Keith Rhyno said at the Regular Meeting of Council in November that there were increased complaints about “unsightly trash and litter.”

Rhyno said litter hot spots are near hundred series highways, specifically Exit 10. “I don’t know why people do this,” Rhyno said adding “there is more than Exit 10.”

Garbage can be found along other roadways in the municipality. On Highway 215 in Noel, beer boxes, coffee containers and plastic bags filled with cans were littered next to the Cobequid Bay in December.

Photo Gallery: Beer boxes, coffee containers and plastic bags filled found along Highway 215 in Noel in December (Ettinger Photos).

Adopt-A-Highway’s annual report said volunteers collected more than 10,000 bags of litter during 557 cleanups in 2019.  

Adopt-A-Highway says on their website that litter poses health risks, affects water quality and can be mistaken as food by animals. They also say “litter begets litter” meaning people tend to leave garbage in areas where it is already visible.

The province installs anti littering signs in areas where garbage collects said Steve Warburton, a spokesperson for Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

“The signs are another part of deterring the public from littering and are installed where more litter and dumping takes place,” said Warburton by email.

Photo: An empty cup among light snow in December just metres from an anti-littering sign in Shubenacadie (Ettinger Photo).

There are anti-littering signs at Exit 10, but garbage is still on the side of the road.

“The signs don’t do anything,” said Karen who is not sure what would stop littering in the area. “Please stop, it is not my favourite hobby,” she said to those who litter.

Roy says he would like cameras installed at Exit 10 to see who is leaving litter in 2020.