North Canaan bears down on litter

NORTH CANAAN — An eye-opening volunteer trash pickup for Earth Day prompted North Canaan’s Board of Selectmen to consider a new dumpster ordinance in the Central Business District.

More than 70 volunteers participated in the town-led cleanup activity and removed litter from most neighborhoods in town, along with town parks and fields.

Selectman Craig Whiting set out with a team to pick up the year-old mess in the woods behind McDonald’s, which was caused by a bear breaking into the dumpster in 2023.

“We probably filled 12 to 15 bags of trash,” said Whiting at a May 6 meeting of the Board. “It was everywhere.”

He said there was “no reason” for the garbage to be left there for so long.

Whiting suggested the town implement an ordinance, which would create an avenue for holding businesses accountable.

“That’s something that we really have to look into especially now that the bear are out and active,” said Whiting.

Since the trash was picked up on April 27, the dumpster was once more ravaged by a bear. Whiting noted the McDonald’s staff, now under new management, picked up the new mess.

Affordable housing

First Selectman Brian Ohler announced at the May 6 meeting his plans to reconvene the town’s Affordable Housing Committee.

The committee, which began under the former administration, has become inactive. Ohler said the town needs to resume efforts on affordable housing and to do so, the committee needs to become active again.

He cited a 2022 town survey that showed, “74% of all respondents said that the cost of housing in town affects the town’s ability to attract and retain younger people or younger families,” and said businesses in town are struggling to find local talent to fill positions.

“We certainly have the workforce to give them jobs, but... housing is a big part of that formula,” said Ohler.

Ohler plans to begin the committee’s revival by contacting former chair Ashleigh Bergenty. He hopes to include Jocelyn Ayer, Director of Litchfield County Center for Housing Opportunity in future affordable housing discussions.

Creating a housing trust was also discussed as a way to tackle the issue.

“We need to hit the ground running,” said Ohler.

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