On April 23rd the County Advertiser reported on a recent discussion of the Wolfville Town Council regarding the accumulation of curb-side garbage and furniture in the town. The responsibility for this was laid at the feet of departing Acadia students, leaving at the end of the school year. Councilors commented about the need for students to know the ‘Spring-cleaning’ garbage pick-up date, and the need for the bylaw enforcement officer to apply fines.
These responses certainly did not surprise me; indeed the comments are indicative of the thinking I have encountered from town leadership over my past three years as a student leader. As a recent graduate of Acadia, this story was a tidy summation of attitudes that have left me tired and jaded. The comments offered by Councilor Donovan were particularly indicative of the continued lack of leadership I have observed from the Council. As reported in the Advertiser, Ms. Donovan raised the issue of couches being left on front lawns and inquired if there was any way to contact tenants prior to the event with the exact date of pick-up.
I do not take issue with such an inquiry, on its face it seems rather reasonable, but it is the thought process from which it came to which I do take exception. Rather than taking initiative and acting in a proactive way, Ms. Donovan believes students should “make it work” and conform to the processes already in place. This is a nonsensical, short-sighted, and lazy approach to governing a town, yet it has become the status quo here in Wolfville.
I have been a full-time, year-round resident for three years, and as all residents of the town know, this late-April garbage-collection crisis did not spring on our unsuspecting Town Council this year. Indeed, I can recall similar scenes every year since I came to Wolfville in 2009. This is because the vast majority of leases in town run from May 1st to May 1st and students must be out of their apartments before then. Some land-lords, recognizing this reality and not wanting their properties to look like community blights, offer residents dumpsters or trash removal services as their tenants pack up. Some do not.
This is not a particularly complicated problem, however that does not mean it should not be taken seriously. This does affect the beauty of our town. However my great frustration comes, once again, from either the failure or unwillingness of Councilors to even to attempt to engage with the needs and lives of students, their constituents. They are residents of Wolfville too, and they too deserve to have their problems and challenges engaged on a level beyond receiving by-law tickets as suggested in the discussion by Councilors. Simply, why do we not change the Spring-cleaning pickup date, or offer two? I am tired of the continual reactive approach to policy and leadership I have observed—we all deserve and need better.