Once upon a time, they were called scavengers.
In politically correct Vancouver, city hall calls them "binners" and their activity is called "binning."
To me, there is only one Binning in B.C. and that is B.C. Binning, the great artist.
Maybe it's some bureaucrat's play on words, because most of the so-called "binners" are also "aint's." As in "ain't got no home, no job."
While gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded during the 2010 Winter Olympics, 68 scavengers, er, um, binners will get steady work collecting aluminum, glass and plastic, thanks to a Dec. 17 decision by Vancouver city council.
The non-profit United We Can is getting $50,000 for an Olympic version of its Urban Binning Unit Cart Program to supply binners with customized recycling carts. Surely someone at VANOC will wave this in the air as proof that the Inner City Inclusive Commitment Statement is being fulfilled. Sustainability in action, they'll say.
Some 250 temporary recycling receptacles will be installed in public places to collect the Olympic beverage containers. MolsonCoors and Coca-Cola, two sponsors who will be generating much of that waste, were notably absent. Wonder if city hall even asked? Both companies are being protected by the city's anti-ambush marketing bylaws.
The decision wasn't popular with one independent scavenger unhappy with what appears to be the growing UWC dominance of the scavenging trade. Frederick Tourney, who already got his free five minutes, voiced his outrage when the grant was approved.
"You just stole everything from the poorest of the poor... you stole from the crippled, the poor… you people are sick puppies! Why don't you guys come and follow us for one day, you wouldn't be able to!" Tourney shouted.
"It's called stealing our bottles. We don't get a choice to participate now. Way to go guys. We get nothing. Sick puppies. We get nothing, we get cut out of the whole damn thing!"
The city's Olympic operations general manager Peter Judd was standing nearby in the council chamber and quietly invited Tourney to speak with him in the lobby. The elderly Tourney proceeded to give Judd a two-handed push not once, but twice.
Judd lost his balance and nearly fell over, but didn't retaliate. There was no security guard on-duty at the city council chamber.
This incident happened the same day that city council okayed next June's Vancouver debut of Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
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