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Greening Up Fort St. James dissolving after 15 years of environmental advocacy

Decision comes due to challenges like membership growth struggles and aging volunteers
Shown are GUF members cleaning up the Nahounli Creek in Fort St. James in 2017. (File photo)

After 15 years of dedicated environmental advocacy, Greening up Fort St. James (GUF) has announced its dissolution as a society.

The decision comes as a result of challenges including difficulties in increasing membership and the aging of its core volunteers.

“We considered dissolving about five years ago and several people came forward to join and discourage the dissolution of GUF,” said board member Louise Evans-Salt.

“However, some original members decided to step down and though the rest of us have a great passion for sustainability and protecting the environment we are an aging group and don’t have the stamina required to do the work,” she added.

Since its inception in 2009, GUF has been instrumental in various initiatives aimed at enhancing sustainability and environmental consciousness in the Fort St. James area.

“For many of the GUF members being part of GUF was about being good local and global citizens. Think Globally and act Locally was a motto that motivated us,” Evans-Salt said.

During the initial years GUF focused on educating and making people aware of sustainability and waste management.

“We participated in local events and parades working to get the message out. We had a number of showings of the Clean Bin Project, which a film made by a Vancouver couple who spent a year committed to creating no waste,” Evans-Salt.

GUF’s efforts ranged from educational campaigns promoting waste reduction and recycling to hands-on initiatives like the annual cleanup of Nahounli Creek.

During the course of their service, GUF lobbied formally for continuation of the curbside pick up of recyclables in Fort St. James; developed a guide for making events more sustainable; developed educational material on the recycling opportunities in the district and around the area; and commissioned the bike stand at Cottonwood Park made from recycled/reclaimed metal.

The organization also played a pivotal role in advocating for environmental regulations, including the implementation of a single-use plastic bylaw, making Fort St. James a pioneer in the province.

One of GUF’s notable achievements was the establishment of a paper and cardboard recycling program in 2010, which later evolved into the Integris Recycling Building after collaborative efforts with local foundations and government bodies. Despite setbacks such as a devastating arson attack on the facility, GUF persevered, and demonstrated a resilience in their pursuit of a greener community.

Despite the decision to disband as an organization, members express their commitment to continue supporting sustainability efforts individually and within the community, said Evans-Salt.

Outgoing GUF members will continue to help and support organizations like The Stuart Lake Recycling Coop, the RDBN, the municipality of FSJ, the Garden Club, the Community Garden, The Seed Library @ FSJPL, the Nechako Watershed Group, the Salmon Hatchery and the White Sturgeon Conservation Initiative to name a few.

About the Author: Binny Paul

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