Municipality of Sioux Lookout extends Pitch-In cleaning event for entire month
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Pitch-In Canada event, which is an annual nationwide community cleanup event that runs from April 22-29, is sanctioned as a one week event but, to allow for any late snow to melt, the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, including Hudson, has extended the cleanup event an additional four weeks.
A media release from the Municipality of Sioux Lookout reads, “As this year’s onset of spring has been somewhat hesitant to initiate warmer temperatures and encourage snow melt, this year the Municipality of Sioux Lookout has declared Pitch–In to operate from April 29 through to May 31. This year's Pitch-In Canada event is once again sponsored by Tim Hortons.”
“The Municipality encourages all groups and/or individuals wanting to participate in the Pitch-In program to register with the Municipality prior to picking up any garbage. By registering, you will receive as many "Pitch-In kits" as required for all members of the cleanup initiative and allow the Municipality to track which areas of the Municipality have already been assigned for cleanup. By tracking areas assigned to Pitch-In registrants, the Municipality can identify and suggest areas that have not been previously assigned to anyone wanting to participate in the program,” the media release continued.
Once registered, Pitch-In kits are available at both the Municipal Offices and the Travel Information Centre.
The Municipality also encourages all Pitch-In participants to contact the Northwestern Health Unit in regards to handling and discarding needles if they are discovered during cleaning efforts.
In a media release issued earlier this spring, the Northwestern Health Unit shared, “Keep yourself and others safe by following these steps to safe needle pick-up:
• If possible, use gloves and tongs to pick-up the needle.
• Never put the cap back on a needle.
• Place the needle in a hard-sided plastic container, point-end first, tightly seal and label “Needle”.
• Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after picking up a needle.
• Return the needle to your local NWHU office.
• Never put needles down the toilet, in drains or in the garbage.”
It continues, “The NWHU Harm Reduction program provides free resources, training and equipment to community members, organizations and workplaces to support safe needle disposal and minimize the risk of exposure to infections. These services include providing:
• Mountable sharps containers,
• Workplace presentations, and
• Needle pick-up kits.”
Northwestern Health Unit Public Health Nurse Stephanie Diebolt shared that efforts to specifically clean up needles have already begun.
“Our nurse Kaitlyn Roen here, on April 26, did do a Northwestern Health Unit led pitch-in cleanup day, and we hit several of the hot-spots where needles have been found… Then today (May 3) she’s over at the high school doing cleanups and training with them on how to safely pick up needles and letting an adult know,” she explained.
The Northwestern Health Unit will be going into elementary schools to do informative sessions on needles to go along with continued efforts that have seen them share hands-on knowledge with local businesses.
“The next few weeks we have several sessions going on at both elementary schools. The message for the younger kids is don’t touch and get an adult… We’ve been going to businesses as well and offering safe pick-up training as well as the needle pick-up kits,” said Diebolt.
“If you are interested in a workplace presentation for your agency or school, they can call our local office to organize that,” she added.
Along with Pitch-In Canada, cleaning and beautification efforts were underway in Sioux Lookout and surrounding areas thanks to different individual efforts locally.
Bob Starratt, along with his wife Kellie, shared through Facebook that they have gathered 68 bags of garbage to date after their Pitch-In cleaning efforts in the Hudson area and along Highway 664 up to the Frenchman’s Head turnoff.
Karl Friesen has also been seen contributing to cleanup efforts along Highway 72.
Susan and Bill Hochstedler, who have lived in Sioux Lookout for 37 years, shared that they have a regular route where they pick up garbage every Sunday morning.
“We clean from West Point Cove boat launch to the stop sign at Prince Street and Eighth Avenue, then turn left one block, turn right on Seventh Avenue down to Front Street, then on over down to Wellington Street, and then the east end of Wellington Street,” said Bill.
When asked if they’ve seen a difference with the amount of garbage over the years, the couple shared that it’s decreasing.
“I’d say it’s been five or six years that we’ve been doing it, and (the amount of garbage) is decreasing,” said Bill.
“It used to be that we would get four bags of garbage on that route and, of course we’ve only been out a time or two this year, but last year it was more like two bags of garbage on that route, so it’s definitely less,” shared Susan.
The pair is urging others locally to spend even just a small fraction of their time cleaning up garbage to contribute.
“Just get out and do it! I guess my challenge would be that people would spend say 30 minutes a week picking up garbage as a contribution to their community,” said Bill.
“I said somebody has to do something about this, and I looked around and there was nobody. Then I said to myself well I’m somebody, so you just have to have that attitude… If it bothers you, pick it up,” Susan concluded.