Edgar Bothelo does not back down from a scrap, whether it be aluminum, copper or even an old car. Our resident ‘tree mover’ and Gypsy table regular is on to a new project – recycling.
While L5 is under development, he has set up a privately run, community-based recycling compound at the junction of Akudlik Marsh and Goose Creek Road.
‘People can drop off batteries, recyclable metal, old vehicles,’ he explains. ‘In only a year and a half, I have brought over 45 vehicles out here from town, back lanes, the flats, you name it.’
Besides cleaning up the town, these derelict vehicles are available for parts – either for in-kind trade or for a small fee. There are starters, alternators, tires, etc.
The town has marked out property and tentatively agreed to a lease which he hopes to pay for with revenue from copper and aluminum that he has gathered and is planning to ship south by train car. His plan is simple. ‘If people have aluminum or copper that they want cleaned up, that’s where I come in. I don’t pick and choose, I’ll take the good, bad and the ugly.’
Materials will be shipped in their present state, he is adamant that there will be no burning or other non-environmentally sound practices at his compound.
‘Over the years, a lot of people have come through Churchill and taken the good stuff away. Now, it is getting hard to find parts and materials when we need them. A lot of them have to be shipped up from the south.’
The Churchill Fire Department has already benefited from this recycling project. After looking all over Manitoba, they found replacement parts for one of their fire engines from an old Costa Cartage truck at Edgar’s place.
He also offers storage for seasonal use vehicles, as well. Instead of leaving them in town, people can rent secure storage space for the winter. Again, the focus is on cleaning up town and reducing snow removal costs for the community.
Much of this project is being done for our community. Edgar came up to Churchill in 1975 for two weeks and has been here ever since. Travelling from Portugal to visit family in Winnipeg, he was about to head back home when his father told him to go visit his uncle in Churchill before he left. Since then, he has operated a snack bar, cab company, has done landscaping, carpentry, you name it.
‘I get bored and like to try new things. I like to be involved with creativity.’ The Inukshuk at the end of Kelsey Boulevard is a good example of what happens when Edgar gets ‘bored’.
His compound is still under development with a lot of advice from ‘Scrappy Jim’. This summer he plans to finish fencing the compound and place willows and trees around it to ‘make it look a little nicer.’
Regardless, it is already a great example of how small business can fill in the gaps and work closely with government iniatives, specifically the closure of the Churchill dump and the development of L5. He fills a niche while the recycling/waste transfer station is still undergoing renovations.
And as usual, community is a big part of his work. He sums up his view of Churchill, ‘I’ve been in Churchill for thirty years. I hear lots of people talk about going to Winnipeg or going to Hawaii, for me going to the scrap metal dump on the weekend, it’s like Disneyland!’
- prepared by Kelsey Eliasson