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by Isabel Mosseler
March 17, 2021
The Sturgeon Falls Beautification Committee is asking the municipality for a $20K contribution for 2021, to continue its efforts to enhance the town. On February 2, volunteers Gayle Primeau and Ken Perrin made a presentation to council highlighting all the improvements that have been made so far, from cleaning, planting trees and flowers, installing lampposts and murals. Numerous letters of support – Primeau estimates at least 30 - were written by both residents and businesses. As council has entered into budget deliberations, she is hoping they will make beautification a priority and approve the financial support.
Primeau says the $20K is not for the group’s labour, which is all volunteer, but for items such as stable garbage cans “that aren’t going to crack, that I don’t have to make a map for each year. I babysit garbage cans, personally, and I’m fed up. In the winter I make sure I place them against the buildings. When the tops are being stolen, I take pictures. We have those nice lampposts. Third world countries have beautiful lampposts and garbage cans. This is the next step to have the proper, durable, stable garbage cans. We have two-thirds of the lampposts.” Primeau wants all of King Street to be done, not just part of it, because she really doesn’t like doing half a job. “It’s also in line with economic development. They want the town beautiful; they want to attract tourists; they want people to move here. Well, you have to make things attractive!”
Many people in Sturgeon Falls have bonded by participating in the Beautification Group. There has been an upsurge in clean-up volunteerism, and the municipality benefits greatly from that. While many volunteer groups have had to shut operations due to COVID, the cleaning crew keeps on going. Primeau is planning a campaign on “Why volunteer?” She’s been taking pictures that show a lot of happy faces, and many new residents to the area have found friends through the Beautification Group. “Every week when we get together, it is fun, we do have fun. Yes, we do a job, but we have fun, and it’s a really nice bunch of people, of all different ages too. …We work, but it’s also a social gathering.”
She points out that the town benefits from this free labour, and some of the savings should be reinvested in the downtown. “How much would it cost the town to hire staff to clean and beautify downtown? I never really got an answer to that… It would be quite expensive.” She is frustrated at some of the objections she’s hearing, including that the group only works in Sturgeon Falls. “Here’s what I’m fighting all the time with council, and I don’t know why. In the past it was COVID – but now it’s about the other areas in the municipality. We are being penalized as a group because the other areas don’t have groups. So, we’re being told we’re getting all the money and I find that very unfair. …Every year Lynne [Duhaime] pleads and begs to get some volunteers in all the other areas. She does have some volunteers and they do ask for money, and she provides funds for flowers, pots, etc. But this is the excuse that was being used at the end of our presentation.”