MUSKOKA – The Baysville Lions Club takes in a pretty penny with its bottle drives and a District of Muskoka decision will let it and other Lions clubs keep raking in the coin for at least the next three years.
Lion Liz Anderson said the club’s bottle return shed at the Baysville transfer station netted about $14,000 one year. The club collected the money by returning empty beer, liquor and wine containers people had donated at the site. Anderson said the bottle drive funds are incredibly important to the club’s work in the community.
“We don’t keep the money for our club,” she said. “We give it to whomever needs it.”
Anderson said the club has used the funds to sponsor children for skating, support the food bank and subsidize children’s programs at the library, among others.
“We give out our money all the time,” she said. “So, it’s very important to us.”
Lions clubs across Muskoka have a long-standing agreement with the District of Muskoka to collect bottles at the district-controlled landfill sites and transfer stations for charitable causes.
But when the agreement came up for renewal, one district councillor questioned whether the district should take over.
Tony White, commissioner of engineering and public works with the district, explained to committee members at a Nov. 14 meeting that the agreement with the Lions would come to the end of its three-year term on Jan. 1, 2013. He said staff was recommending a renewal of the agreement for a further three years.
“The Lions clubs had a practice and approvals in place for quite some time to collect bottles and cans at the landfill sites and transfer stations and use them for their charitable purposes,” said White. “While we haven’t actually gone out and made inquiries in the community if anybody else would like in on this action, I haven’t had any inquiries from people wanting to take over from the Lions.”
White stated that the Lions clubs had expressed an interest in continuing the bottle collection.
However, Muskoka Lakes coun. Phil Harding asked whether the district should start collecting the bottles for itself.
“It kind of begs the question to me that, if we have this value sitting there in bottles and cans, could our district staff separate it and return it for income?” asked Harding.
While White said the district could make the decision to end its agreement with the Lions, he noted that the cost of supervising and administering the program would likely outweigh the financial benefit.
“And I know that when people come to a landfill site or transfer station and they see a little bin or cubicle that encourages them to deposit their bottles and cans to support the Lions clubs in their community, it’s fairly compelling and people are likely to do that,” said White. “Personally, I don’t think people would be as responsive to the district as they would to the Lions clubs.”
Gravenhurst coun. Bob Colhoun, chair of the committee, noted that the charitable humanitarian work Lions clubs do across Muskoka is incredibly important and taking bottle drive funding from them is not the answer.
“I would suggest that the work these folks do in the community would be far more beneficial in the long run to the community than collecting the money ourselves,” he said.
Lake of Bays coun. Bob Lacroix agreed with Colhoun.
“With the Lions clubs in Baysville and Dwight, all the money that does come in from collection stays in the community. They’ve done a lot of good work,” said Lacroix. “And Tony (White) is right – if we say it’s a District of Muskoka bottle drive, all you’d get in there is smashed bottles.”
Lacroix’s fellow councillors chuckled before approving the recommendation to extend the agreement with Muskoka’s Lions clubs for another three year.