Dawson’s green plans

by Tanya Boyce

Sustainable Dawson’s campaign is already displaying positive results this semester after only a few weeks of organizing and contriving numerous projects to promote sustainability at the college.

Aside from over 150 in-class projects being developed, the campaign is busy planning the Peace Garden, researching wildlife gain, updating their website, and working towards Earth Week. Cindy Elliott, the Coordinator of Sustainable Dawson, explains that although the campaign is not part of a program or a department, it is pertinent to creating awareness of ecological issues and social responsibilities. The campaign stresses the importance of recycling and hopes to find a solution to reduce the use of paper and plastics. The emphasis made on recycling has proven to be a success within Dawson.

“It is the third week into the campaign and recycling has already tripled,” said Elliott.

The environmental progress has not gone unnoticed and the college was awarded third level “Cégep Vert” status.

“It is also quite possible that Dawson will receive an award of excellence in May,” added Elliott.

It is normally necessary to pass through levels one and two before achieving three. Dawson, however, was immediately accepted at level three because of the college’s focus on and dedication to adopting environmental policies, providing workshops, and educating and promoting environmental awareness.

Maha Haddad, of Student Affaires, stated that Dawson’s environmental habits are being looked up to.

“We have received calls from other CEGEPs , like Champlain, to help them create and maintain a sustainable environment,” Maddad said..

In addition to recycling, the campaign is hoping to start composting in the future. Unfortunately, many bylaws prohibit Dawson from beginning a composting project.

“Because Dawson is a heritage building, we’re not allowed to get rid of any green space. And because we’re located in Westmount, if there were composts they would have to be hidden from sight. And then we’d also have to consider the maintenance of the composts,” Maddad explained.

Although there are obstacles, the campaign is looking at many possibilities to expand and improve sustainability.

The Peace Garden, which begins construction this Spring, will be a significant part of expanding Dawson’s environmental stewardship. Apart from the memorial significance, the garden will allow native wildlife back into the urban landscape. The garden will contain from 8,000 to 10,000 plants and there will be interlocking “infinity loop” trails covering the grounds.

During March several large and old trees were cut down from the grounds. Instead of disregarding the wood, the campaign  has kept it and plans to use it for the garden. Some of the wood might be used to build benches while some of it will be left to rot in the garden to attract wildlife. The Peace garden will also be an exhibition of community involvement.

“It’s an opportunity for the whole school to get involved. It’s exciting to see how each program can contribute. Students from Design, Fine Arts, Photography, and in Cinema and Communication can all contribute differently,” Elliott said.

The campaign is also working to add information to the website about recycling.

“There are different types of plastics and papers. We’re looking to put up information on the types and about what really is recyclable,” Maddad said.

The recycling program at Dawson, prior to the Sustainable campaign, was mostly run by clubs.

“Sometimes the recycling batch was forgotten to be sent out. It was all voluntary and students would forget or wouldn’t have access to the offices because they weren’t permitted to unlock and lock them,” Maddad said.

Sustainable Dawson has drastically improved the college’s ecological awareness and is continuing to finds way to achieve more.

Earth week events will be held from April 20 to 23 in Conrods. To participate with the campaign, a signup sheet is available in 3F.2-7 and there are project suggestions on the Sustainable Dawson website.

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