The Greening of Hampstead

2009-05-25

Spring is here and we are all enjoying the good weather, our parks, the flowers and trees throughout the town but will our children and grandchildren have the same abundance of nature that we enjoy today? I am no expert on global warming, climate change or biodiversity; and I have no idea if the predictions of catastrophe around the corner are correct or not. However, I do know that it would be irresponsible to ignore the warnings when there is so much that can be done for little or no cost. In fact, many actions save both our residents and the town money.

The theme of this newsletter is a greener Hampstead. Inside you will find many tips on recycling and saving energy. I know that many of you are very passionate about being kind to our planet. I share your concerns and, in fact, Hampstead has taken many steps to help us become greener. However, there is only so much that the town can do to encourage green practices. We must be partners in this endeavor. At the end of the day, only you can choose to recycle, be less wasteful and save energy.

Doing well by doing good

One example of a concrete action that will benefit you and the town is the “Go with the Flow” campaign being conducted by Hampstead in conjunction with Hydro-Quebec. Details were in my recent letter to all residents, as well as, in this newsletter. If you complete the home diagnostic questionnaire, you will get a customized report with numerous energy saving tips and the town will get funds for planting more trees. Everyone wins.

Recycling is another area where we can all benefit. In a few months you will get new, 240 liter recycling bins. These have about the same footprint as our current blue boxes but they hold about four times as much material. They will be on wheels and have a lid to prevent litter from flying out. Our recycling rate has improved significantly over the last two years but we are still have one of the lowest recycling rates on the island. We can and must do better.

Increasing recycling and decreasing garbage will lead to reduced taxes. The saving will be in the Agglomeration part of your tax bill as the Agglomeration pays $45 per ton to treat our garbage but nothing to treat recycling material.

What Hampstead is doing

Hampstead staff and members of council no longer use bottled water. At meetings we have pitchers of water. This saves the town money and reduces plastic waste. Join us. When you go out take a refillable squeeze bottle of water. They are “in” and bottled water is “out.”

Hampstead was the first town in Canada to ban wood burning stoves. The across-Canada publicity has encouraged other towns to follow our lead, including Montreal which recently passed a similar bylaw.

We have an annual collection of leaves for composting. With your help and the leaves collected from the parks and streets, we have been collecting about 250 tons each year. We are currently looking into a composting program for all organic waste. If we find a cost effective model, we will introduce it as soon as possible.

We collect used batteries in special bins in Town Hall and the Community Centre. We have an annual hazardous materials collection which includes computers, monitors and printer cartridges. We also have an Eco-Hampstead section on our website with numerous environment-friendly tips.

To encourage water conservation and to save the town money, we shifted part of the tax burden from property taxes to our water tax, which is based on actual water consumption. This change has reduced our residents’ consumption of water and reduced your tax burden.

We have reduced paper communications such as this newsletter, while increasing e-mail messages and notices on our web site. Our goal is to continue to reduce paper mailings and we encourage residents to sign up for eHampstead. Over 400 residents are registered and they find the service very useful. To join, visit www.hampstead.qc.ca and click on the link in the top left corner.

Hampstead is a very attractive, garden town. With your help, let’s be green in every sense of the word.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead