Irate about illegal dumping
Leaders in Spaniard’s Bay, Bay Roberts voice frustration; say province partly to blame
Municipal leaders in Spaniard’s Bay and Bay Roberts were voicing anger and frustration last week over the ongoing problem of illegal dumping in the region, with some officials suggesting the provincial government is partly to blame.
The issue was a hot topic at council meetings in both towns as council members reacted to ongoing complaints from citizens.
The focus of discussions at both meetings was Muddy Hole Road, which winds along the boundary of both towns. The area has become a popular destination for illegal dumpers, and is littered with tires, appliances, building supplies, automotive parts, electronics, glass and much more.
Members of both councils reviewed photographs of the area that were submitted by a concerned resident, and many expressed disgust at the complete disregard some people are showing toward the environment.
John Drover said the problem is “getting worse all the time,” and he pointed a finger at the provincial government, suggesting that having a regional landfill established in St. John’s at Robin Hood Bay is the reason many people turn to illegal dumping.
“Government is shying away from this” problem, Drover said, adding that the province should take a more aggressive stance on the enforcement of dumping laws.
Many are hoping that a proposed new regional bulk waste disposal site planned for Harbour Grace will help address the problem of illegal dumping.
These facilities, known as waste recovery facilities (WRF), will allow residents to dispose of bulk items, including appliances (washers, dryers, hot water boilers), furniture (mattresses, couches, tables), shingles, tires, construction and demolition waste.
The site was initially scheduled to be open by this summer, but there’s been no word lately from Eastern Waste Management.
Many leaders, including Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood, also expressed frustration that many of the items discarded illegally are routinely collected by municipalities, or can be disposed of at local recycling companies.
“It still boogles my mind. The Town of Bay Roberts, as far as I’m concerned, is doing an excellent job with giving people the opportunity to take items, except for some shingles ... we even take some construction, if you are doing personal construction,” he said. “We even take dishwashers. Anytime of the day but we still end up with the same issues.”
Wood wondered why people would take the time to dump objects like sinks and microwaves in ditches instead of availing of the services provided by the town.
“They could’ve put it out by their door, and our council workers would’ve taken it,” he said.
Wood appeared frustrated by the amount of garbage being dumped in Bay Roberts, and it’s not just the bulk garbage being found in the woods.
“We sent two cleaners up to tidy up the Bay Arena during Easter, and I’m sure if you went up this week, you wouldn’t think we were there,” he said.
Wood said the town has to try and appeal to the community with regards to the dumping of bulk garbage and litter in general.
“We want them to take pride in their community and constantly be vigilant,” he said.
In an effort to pinpoint those who dump illegally, the Spaniard’s Bay council passed a motion to approve the purchase of four surveillance cameras. It was agreed that one of those cameras will be placed in a “choice location” along Muddy Hole Road.
In an earlier measure to stamp out the problem, the town approved the awarding of a $500 reward for anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an illegal dumper.
So far, this award has not been claimed, and Drover acknowledged it’s very difficult to get a conviction. Even when garbage can be traced to an individual, it’s not always enough to lay charges, since the accused can claim that someone stole the garbage.
“This is a bigger problem than any small community can enforce,” he said.
Suggestions that the town clean up the mess were quickly dismissed, with Spaniard’s Bay town manager Tony Ryan stating: “We’d have to do some tax hike here to clean up all the mess that’s out there.”
He also suggested that a cleanup may be in ineffective, since the dumping would only continue, necessitating further cleanups.
Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O’brien, during a meeting of the House of Assembly management commission last week, suggested there is a “culture” of indiscriminate dumping that goes back many years. As for enforcement, he said it would take having someone behind every tree to completely stamp out the problem.
Tires and trash are being dumped in the areas around Conception Bay. This gravel pit in Muddy Hole Road has seen more than two dozen tires, drywall and household trash dumped this spring.
Travelling over Muddy Hole Road becomes more difficult the farther you go in as pieces of glass, carpet and old computer towers litter the road.