of high and main streets

Whitehorse actually has a main street that is called, well, Main Street. Before the arrival of the big box stores it was where most of the…

Whitehorse actually has a main street that is called, well, Main Street.

Before the arrival of the big box stores it was where most of the commercial activity happened.

Even today, it is still the fiscal focus of town.

The banks are solidly quartered here and the higher end retail outlets still hang on.

It has become a bit of a cliché, but what happens on main streets across Canada is a true reflection of what Canada is thinking and doing.

The British equivalent of main street is the high street.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is fortunate to actually have a road called High Street.

It is part of a series of streets running together and known as the Royal Mile.

Lying between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, it is an old-fashioned place.

Built in the Middle Ages it is carefully maintained with most of the original buildings still in use, albeit now connected to water, sewage, electricity and high-speed internet.

There are some modern buildings, such as the new Scottish Parliament building, but by and large everything is old.

It is even still paved with setts, a form of rectangular cobblestone.

They are quite comfortable to walk or drive on although they can play havoc if one is towing a wheeled suitcase.

Like Whitehorse’s Main Street, High Street is the focus of the town, but more for tourism and politicians.

The castle, palace and points in-between attract the tourists and the Parliament attracts the politicians.

Ask the locals on the High Street what they think about any issue, and odds are they are reflecting general mainstream Scottish thought.

There is more than just asking what people think though.

It is looking at how things are done.

The way an activity is done on either a high or main street probably shows how it is done in the rest of the community.

What is notable about these two thoroughfares, the one in Whitehorse and the one in Edinburgh, is how cardboard is collected for recycling.

It should be noted that because they drive on the lefthand side of the road in Scotland it is slightly different than what happens in Whitehorse, but the essentials are still the same.

A small one-tonne truck with an enclosed compartment on the back scoots along, stopping at every business that wants to recycle its empty cardboard boxes.

The driver gets out, goes into the business, gathers up the cardboard and physically throws into the back of the vehicle.

Then it is off to the next stop.

When the truck is full of loose cardboard, it is off to a recycling centre where it can be baled and shipped to a pulp mill to be made into new paper products.

This method is perfect for businesses that generate small amounts of cardboard.

Now there are some jurisdictions that use a much more capital-intensive system.

It involves having large dumpster-size bins and massive trucks with hydraulic lifts to empty the bins.

This is very expensive, both to purchase the equipment and to maintain it.

It is worth noting that in Whitehorse no organization has yet figured out a way to do this and remain fiscally solvent.

Given that the downtown cores of both the Scottish and Yukon capital cities consist of essentially small-scale businesses, the human-oriented pickup is appropriate.

There might be businesses or even districts that warrant the larger scale pickups.

A careful analysis has to be done as to whether the amount of cardboard being recycled makes this practical.

The key figure is the cost of purchasing the hydraulic lift-fitted trucks and the cost of operating and maintaining all of this equipment is within the realm of fiscal prudence.

Should it not be, the human-powered cardboard pickup is the practical way to go.

Cardboard is being saved from the landfill, and money is being saved from unnecessary capital infrastructure.

If there is one thing the Scots do claim to know, and that is how to save money.

In these fiscally turbulent times it is perhaps a lesson Whitehorse should absorb.