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ECU litter sparks questions
By: Jerrie DEMASI

Published: 08/10/2010

On a sunny summer day it’s a lovely walk from the Mt Lawley campus to the Alexander drive bus stop. The brick path leads the way to the main road with leafy green trees above, a quaint little duck pond to your left, and gorgeous heritage Coolbinia properties to your right.

However, as you approach the bus stop, there sits a rubbish bin overflowing with litter that has spewed over the sides, covering the ground in filth.

This is the scene on most days at the city-bound bus stop near the corner of Bradford St and Alexander Drive. The small bin, supplied by the City of Stirling, is inadequate for the number of students who use it, and as a result the area is often a complete mess.

While the bus stop is not on campus, it’s public knowledge that it’s mainly used by ECU Mt Lawley students. Undoubtedly the sight and smell of the litter is unsavoury for those who use the stop, but the constant mess also gives ECU a bad name.

The word litterbug is surely not what our university would like to have associated with its student body, especially if it’s not their fault.

3rd Degree spoke to the Director of Facilities, Mr Brian Yearwood, about whether the university would be prepared to take action and repair the student body’s image. Mr Yearwood said the issue did not fall under his responsibilities.

“Littering and inappropriate disposal of rubbish is an issue that affects all of us across the community,” he said.

“Unfortunately we are unable to control what happens off campus and in the surrounding areas.”

However, the university could obtain some control should they seek it. In fact any citizen could. A simple letter to the City of Stirling explaining that the area needs a second or larger bin would get the ball rolling. The council could discuss the issue at their next meeting and the course of action would depend on a vote. Sounds simple enough, right?

So who are the councillors in charge of vital decisions that make our everyday lives much easier (or in some cases much harder)?

They are a panel of 14 community-minded individuals voted in by Stirling residents. They decide what goes, what stays, what’s new and what days you can turn your sprinklers on in summer.

If you want something changed, they’re the people to talk to.

A spokesperson from the Stirling Council told 3rd Degree that the Alexander Drive bus stop has its bin serviced weekly. The spokesperson said the bin route was unlikely to change and that the best course of action would be to write a letter requesting a new or larger bin for the area. The matter would then go before council.

This raises the question; when citizens use this method, how often does it result in action?

City of Stirling resident Christine Ioannou was disappointed with her experience. She was outraged when several old native trees were pulled down at her local park to make room for sun sails over the play equipment. She wrote a letter of complaint asking that the trees be replaced with similar natives. Several months later the trees were replaced, but with tiny boutique saplings that were not of native origin and provided very little shade.

The big old trees were removed to be replaced with supposedly a much better source of shade, the sun sails. Since then, however, the councillors have met to discuss complaints that the sails are inefficient, because they lose their UV protection after a couple of years and are only effective around midday when the sun is overhead.

With the sun sails being inefficient, and the new tiny trees offering minimal shade, it looks like the kids will have to be extra careful when in the sun at the park. Ms Ioannou wrote another letter of complaint.

When questioned on the matter, Councillor Paul Collins refused to accept that the issue was the council's responsibility.

“It’s inevitable that at some stage in your growing up period, you’ll get burnt,” he said.

“You could just go on and on to ensure that our children are fully protected in everything that they do, but is that the role of the City of Stirling? No it’s not.”

With so many people passing the blame, how do you get anything done? An angry petition? A peaceful protest? A letter to Santa?

When all avenues are exhausted, it's difficult to know where else to turn. The bus stop needs a new or second bin. ECU says it's not their problem, so the only avenue seems to be a plea to the council.

3rd Degree has submitted a letter to the City of Stirling. Watch this space for the outcome.