Pay­ing the price for garbage

Cabin own­ers, those who live in un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas, pay­ing for col­lec­tion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

It was early Jan­uary when Gerry West­cott vis­ited his cot­tage in Spread Ea­gle, Trin­ity Bay to make sure the prop­erty was OK.

His eye was im­me­di­ately drawn to the “lit­tle bag­gie” on the door knob. It con­tained a let­ter from Eastern Waste Man­age­ment, ex­plain­ing that garbage col­lec­tion ser­vices were be­ing in­tro­duced to the area on Jan. 4, and that a re­cy­cling pro­gram would be­gin Jan. 9.

“I thought, ‘this is in­ter­est­ing,’” West­cott, a St. John’s res­i­dent, told The Com­pass last week.

Spread Ea­gle is an un­in­cor­po­rated area, lo­cated near the com­mu­nity of Old Shop, and is the site of many dozens of cab­ins. It’s a pop­u­lar week­end des­ti­na­tion, though a hand­ful of peo­ple live there year-round.

So when West­cott learned the area would be re­ceiv­ing reg­u­lar garbage col­lec­tion, at a cost of $180 an­nu­ally, he could only scratch his head.

“I said to my­self, ‘this is no good for me.’ I’m a week­end user. I gen­er­ate a half-bag of garbage and I bring it back to St. John’s for my reg­u­lar garbage.”

The no­tice fur­ther ex­plained that in sit­u­a­tions where the road is not cleared of snow, prop­erty own­ers were to bring their garbage to the paved road near Old Shop on col­lec­tion day, and were re­spon­si­ble to en­sure it was prop­erly cov­ered so scav­engers could not tear the bags open.

In time, two wooden dump­sters were placed at the en­trance to Spread Ea­gle, and it was quickly over­flow­ing with res­i­den­tial and bulk garbage, said West­cott.

“Ev­ery week­end it was blocked solid with garbage bags and over­flow­ing all around it. One day there were three couches piled up around it. There was as TV as well,” he said.

“It seemed to me and many oth­ers that Eastern Waste Man­age­ment was turn­ing our area, which was clean, into a dump­ing ground.”

About a month ago, West­cott re­ceived a visit from a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Eastern Waste Man­age­ment, who de­liv­ered a pickup sched­ule for res­i­den­tial and bulk garbage. It noted that house­hold garbage would be col­lected at the road­side ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

The man also asked West­cott for his mail­ing ad­dress so he could be billed for the ser­vice.

West­cott re­fused, say­ing, “I don’t use the garbage be­cause I’m not here and don’t have any garbage to give you.”

Mod­ern waste prac­tices

The move by Eastern Waste Man­age­ment (EWM) to pro­vide garbage col­lec­tion to what it de­scribes as “sea­sonal” ar­eas like Spread Ea­gle, Sal­monier Line and Bri­gus Junc­tion is the lat­est in a pro­gres­sion of steps to ful­fill its man­date of im­ple­ment­ing mod­ern waste man­age­ment prac­tices for ev­ery­one in the area from Clarenville to St. John’s.

It’s fair to say the “com­plex” ef­fort is be­ing met with re­sis­tance, said Ed Grant of Mount Pearl, the newly ap­pointed chair of the EWM board of di­rec­tors.

He ac­knowl­edged there have been prob­lems in ar­eas like Spread Ea­gle, and that EWM is look­ing out­side the prov­ince for “best prac­tices” to en­sure the ser­vice is pro­vided in a cost-ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient man­ner.

But he said prop­erty own­ers should get used to the fact that this ser­vice is be­ing made avail­able, and de­scribed the counter ar­gu­ments as “thin.”

“If I have a sum­mer home in Clarenville, and I only go on week­ends, my prop­erty tax is not ad­justed be­cause I’m not us­ing the ser­vices,” he ex­plained.

“I live in Mount Pearl and I have no use for Metrobus, but I still have to pay that por­tion of my tax that is ap­pli­ca­ble.”

He sug­gested that those who bring their garbage to an­other mu­nic­i­pal­ity for dis­posal are “par­a­sit­ing off some­body else.”

“The prob­lem this presents is the com­mu­nity he’s bring­ing it to is then com­plain­ing about this this ex­tra garbage that is be­ing brought to their com­mu­nity. They’re then re­spon­si­ble for col­lect­ing it, bring­ing it to the land­fill and pay­ing the tip­ping fee,” said Grant.

“That’s not fair, so we’re try­ing to bal­ance those two things.”

What’s more, EWM is now set­ting its sights on res­i­den­tial ar­eas out­side of in­cor­po­rated towns and Lo­cal Ser­vice Dis­tricts, in­clud­ing clus­ters of homes like those found in Gad­den’s Mash, just out­side the bound­ary of Car­bon­ear.

Grant said EWM rou­tinely re­ceives com­plaints from mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties about hav­ing to pay for the trans­port and dis­posal of garbage that is gen­er­ated out­side their bound­aries. In many cases, he said, peo­ple in th­ese un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas bring their garbage to a fam­ily mem­ber or friend in­side a neigh­bour­ing town.

“What (th­ese towns) want us to do is ful­fill our man­date and go into those 15 or 20 houses … pick up their garbage, they’re go­ing to pay any­where from $160 to $180 per year, de­pend­ing on lo­ca­tion and the num­ber of houses. It’s fair for all. Th­ese peo­ple are not be­ing pun­ished. They’re be­ing ex­pected to pay the same thing to re­move their garbage.”

“The point is that some fees for prop­erty is go­ing to come into play, and we’re try­ing to bal­ance the needs for peo­ple who are full-time livy­ers with part-timers and so on.

“You just can’t say you’re go­ing to opt out. No­body gets to opt out when you’re talk­ing about mu­nic­i­pal re­lated ser­vices.”

Grant said the chal­lenge is pre­par­ing a di­rect billing sys­tem for th­ese ar­eas, as op­posed to send­ing a bill to a town or LSD, and have it col­lect from prop­erty own­ers.

“We have a staff to do that,” said Grant, adding, “The sys­tem is com­ing. The ques­tion is whether we can re­fine it to make ev­ery­body happy, and we’re work­ing real hard to try and do that.”

Cost-ef­fec­tive

The fo­cus to date has been in­cor­po­rated towns and Lo­cal Ser­vice Dis­tricts, and EWM has now grown to be the largest col­lec­tor of mu­nic­i­pal waste out­side of the City of St. John’s. For in­stance, EWM pro­vides garbage col­lec­tion to many com­mu­ni­ties in the Trin­ity South area and com­mu­ni­ties along the north shore of Con­cep­tion Bay, and larger towns such as Pla­cen­tia.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have the op­tion of pro­vid­ing the ser­vice on their own, or en­ter­ing into an ar­range­ment with EWM.

“Most mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that ac­tu­ally use our ser­vice find it more cost ef­fec- tive than do­ing it them­selves,” said Grant.

EWM is a di­vi­sion of Eastern Re­gional Ser­vices Board, which is over­seen by a board of 20 mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives led by a chair­per­son ap­pointed by the prov­ince. Ches Ash, the deputy mayor of Car­bon­ear, is the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion.

The board also over­sees op­er­a­tions of sev­eral bulk trans­fer sta­tions, in­clud­ing a pro­posed sta­tion for Har­bour Grace that Grant said should be open to the pub­lic by late sum­mer.

Mean­while, Grant said a model for col­lec­tions for the whole re­gion will be in place “in the next 12 months to two years.”

“We’re tend­ing to meet the same kind of re­sis­tance when the govern­ment de­cided to cen­tral­ize the three waste sites. But over time peope have re­al­ized it makes a lot of sense for the en­vi­ron­ment and for peo­ple gen­er­ally,” he noted. “All too of­ten in this prov­ince we have been fa­mous for tak­ing it down the road and throw­ing it over the bank.”

Sub­mit­ted photo

Garbage and other bulk items are seen over­flow­ing from two wooden bins near Spread Ea­gle, Trin­ity Bay re­cently.

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