Spring has finally arrived in sleepy Philipsburg

An open letter from Robert Galbraith

Spring has finally arrived in sleepy Philipsburg. And along with the appearance of the first crocus, the receding snow exposes a village that looks more like a squatters’ camp, or something out of a vacation nightmare. So I am going to take you on a little tour of our village, to show you how our community is dying, a victim of mismanagement by our elected officials past and present, and a lack of pride by its residents.

Taking the first exit from highway 133 we see our first two shining examples of this blight, one on the left side of the road, the other on the right, (with its new addition of those lovely ice shacks). Both these properties should be bulldozed into oblivion. Driving a little further, we see a big new house. This house , which went up white some of us were trying to preserve the beauty of our shoreline, and draw attention to the UPA and its dirt, goes to show that you can get away with anything if you know the right people. Continuing on our little tour, we stop at the creek flowing off a farm (or industrial dump, depending on who you speak with). This creek is very likely the main source of E-coli contamination in our bay. During spring, summer and fall, large numbers of cattle use this creek every day as their own toilet, crapping and pissing into our drinking water ! This killer waste flows south along our shore­line and ends on top of our water intake pipe. So why pay for a 3 million sewer line while this farm gets away with environmental crimes against us and our bay.

Just past the creek we see the fields of junk vehicles. I think I counted over 40 derelict vehicles on this property atone. It is supposed to be a farm, I think. Next we stop at a property with a lovely green lawn running down to the water’s edge. But what is this little flag on the lawn, it reads ; DANGER PESTICIDE USE – KEEP PETS AND CHILDREN AWAY ! And THAT in our village when we can’t drink the water, or even put our toe in it for a good part of the year ? But even one of our former councillors endorsed the use of these cancer-causing agents. I guess he feels that lovely roses are more important than poison in his children’s, or my children’s, drinking water. Some people should stick to what they know best and remember that what they do in the present can follow them like a dark cloud for a long, long time (it is already too late for me). So we continue on, but we make a short stop at the site where the beaver was clubbed to death with a shovel by our new town inspector who, I believe, told the Gazette, «It’s just a beaver.» Well, within the boundaries of St Armand it is just a beaver. But, (and this message is applicable to all the councillors and mayor) if you walk to the edge of St-Armand village you will see that there is a whole other world out there on the other side of the fence. Yes, you got it, St-Armand is not a planet.

Now we reach the pourvoirie which services the ice fishermen. Isn’t that a lovely site ! Thousands of people use our village for this activity but what does the village get in return – a few packs of cigarettes sold at the corner store, white they fish out the bay and dump their garbage into their ice holes. All those hundreds of cars must be good for the bay – right ? Just remember, we drink what they leave behind ! Beside the pourvoirie sits the municipal parking area – also an eyesore. Passing the dépanneur we see another property, resembling a car wrecking yard. How pathetic ! But as we cross the 133 and make our way to squeaky-clean St-Armand, we strain our eyes to see any wrecked vehicles or run-down properties. I can’t see any junk heaps ; but there are plenty of fields flushing their pig and cattle crap into the water by unconcerned farmers (it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if you plough right into the Rock River, it facilitates the flushing of the poison). But they don’t care about us downstream, they just care about themselves. We have become a ghetto to St Armand. What do we get in return for our merger with this other farm town ? Where are the wrecks and eyesores in St-Armand ? Aren’t we supposed to be merged and equal ? Then why, Mr. Mayor and councillors, is our village a dump and your’s not ? You even have a pretty little sign welcoming visitors. But just how many derelict cars are there clogging the roads and fields in your town ? NONE ! ! ! ! So I guess we are merged – and sort of demerged ? Depending on how the mayor feels that day. Is there any vision in St-Armand, or is it the blind leading the blind again ? I think it is time for the mayor and council to grow up and look past the fence gate. Or are you just going to keep on dishing us up the same old crap in our water and through our ears. Perhaps this is the reward of having a farmer-heavy council. If the council doesn’t step forward and take their responsibility seriously, I will make damned sure they become part of the pollution story this summer, when our lake shuts down and the media shows up. Because, ultimately, the health and prosperity of our village is in your hands.

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