Concern and support
Central Newfoundland representatives talk about waste strategy study.
CORNER BROOK, NL — Baie Verte Deputy Mayor Scott Furey is concerned that a study into Newfoundland and Labrador’s waste management strategy will add another delay to years of little action in his area.
Baie Verte continues to wait on the primary implementation of this strategy, he said. The town continues to use its landfill, albeit with a number of implemented changes to practices at the site and its pick-up program.
“For the places where this hasn’t happened yet, it is kind of leaving us up in the air longer,” he said.
The town has been preparing for waste management changes for years, including the eventual trucking of waste to the central regional site in Norris Arm, he said.
Furey agrees with the need to reduce the number of landfills in central Newfoundland, and that the strategy has environmental benefits – so an overview of the strategy at this juncture could be positive, he said.
With a regional committee in place to oversee this development for years, the deputy mayor said it appears the delay has been due to availability of funding.
“They have been telling us this is what is happening and it is going to happen, but we don’t seem to have much choice,” he said. “It is more ‘wait and see’ from the government, so it is frustrating when you just want to know one way or another.”
Cost to the municipality and ultimately, area residents, remains the biggest concern, according to Furey. He said small towns and aging populations alike are anticipating difficulty paying the additional costs of waste management in the future.
“It has to be done in an efficient and cost-effective way,” he said.
Springdale Mayor Dave Edison has similar sentiments with respect to the time it’s taking for the strategy to be implemented. His town still trucks its garbage to nearby South Brook, whereas it will eventually be trucked to the Barry Manuel, mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor.
Norris Arm site.
“I am not surprised it is coming up again,” Edison said, with respect to the Nov. 1 announcement the province will issue two requests for proposals for professional services to provide an operational and financial analysis of waste management systems in the province. The proposals will also assess potential sold waste management technologies that will support the strategy’s goals and objectives.
He supports the strategy review.
“There is a lot of money into this, and it is a big budget concern for all towns,” he said. “To know they are continuing to study and keep looking at
what’s best as a positive sign.”
Edison said the current service is good for the town and its residents. While the cost is a big part of Springdale’s budget, he said it is a necessary expense that’s manageable for the town.
“Discussion is important in any area, as far as I am concerned,” the mayor said. “Before they make any further huge decisions, discussion and having people involved and have their say could bring about better ideas of different ways to tackle the issue.”
Mayor Barry Manuel of Grand Falls-Windsor said representatives of his town have been vocal for years on the issue of waste management and its associated costs. He believes the study is long overdue.
While most people are interested in protecting the environment, according to the mayor, he feels towns in central Newfoundland have had to absorb costs more than double those of other areas of the province.
The strategy brought forward in 2002 was meant to be provincewide, but he says what has transpired since has not been provincial in scope.
“We just want to be treated fairly,” he said. “If this study comes back and suggests whatever, we hope it is going to be everybody in the province subjected to the same set of rules. Right now, that is not the case.”
Manuel said recycling initiatives have been implemented in areas of central Newfoundland, including the necessary separation of waste in homes and at the Norris Arm site. Grand Falls-Windsor has been trucking its waste to the regional facility for some time. The mayor said the facility is large enough to handle the entire province’s recycling requirements – something he would like to see implemented in the strategy.
“You are seeing a facility that has cost a huge amount of money that is operating at about a 25 per cent capacity,” he said.
Gander Mayor Percy Farwell said it’s a good idea to review the provincial strategy at this point in its implementation. He said the strategy has been rolled out in varying stages across the province. In central Newfoundland, where it has advanced further than most areas, he said they have experienced some of the bugs associated with it.
The mayor said allowing some communities to opt in or out of certain aspects of the program is an issue, which he believes is contributing to one of the major concerns with the entire strategy.
“There are some serious concerns around the cost structure of the new system compared to where we were,” he said. “For all of us, as municipalities, anything that has financial implications is of great concern.
“We are concerned there is a significantly increased cost. We understand that being environmentally conscious comes with a price to pay.”
The fact the cost does not seem to be universal for different jurisdictions of the province is also a concern for Farwell, who will represent his town on the regional waste management board.
Waste from Gander is being shipped to the regional site in Norris Arm. Collection is being done through the joint system offered through the board. There is a site in Gander for those with access to it.
Percy Farwell, mayor of Gander.
Scott Furey, deputy mayor of Baie Verte.