A core di­vides them

Two new coun­cil­lors clash over ap­ple core

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER AND TERRY ROBERTS

An un­easy and very pub­lic con­fronta­tion be­tween two newly elected mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers on a street in Bay Roberts re­cently has given new mean­ing to the term “for­bid­den fruit.”

It also re­newed the de­bate over whether biodegrad­able waste should be de­fined as lit­ter.

Mike Power, a newly in­stalled mem­ber of the Cupids town coun­cil, was driv­ing his pickup along Wa­ter Street in Bay Roberts on Fri­day, Oct. 11. He fin­ished munch­ing on a crabap­ple picked from a tree on his prop­erty, and non­cha­lantly tossed the core out his win­dow.

He con­tin­ued to the stop­light at the in­ter­sec­tion with Route 70 (Con­cep­tion Bay High­way), and while wait­ing for a green light, heard a tap on his win­dow.

It was Ge­orge Sim­mons, a newly elected mem­ber of the Bay Roberts town coun­cil and re­tired RCMP of­fi­cer. Power said Sim­mons de­manded that he pick up his trash, and ad­vised him not to lit­ter in “his town.”

This touched of f a testy ex­change, with traf­fic halted as the two men de­bated.

The con­fronta­tion car­ried on to the nearby RCMP of­fice in Bay Roberts, where Sim­mons lodged a lit­ter­ing com­plaint, and asked that Power be charged.

When reached last week, Power de­fended his ac­tions, say­ing an ap­ple core is not lit­ter, and blamed the con­fronta­tion on Sim­mons.

“He tells me he’s an ex-cop and I’m lit­ter­ing his town, act­ing like a vig­i­lante with a chip on his shoul­der,” said Power.

No re­grets

When asked if he re­gret­ted dis­card­ing the ap­ple core on a pub­lic street, Power said no.

“I would do the same thing again. It’s not lit­ter,” Power stated, adding that the core rolled off the road and would quickly de­cay.

Power said he did not ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing ap­proached in such a way, and stated em­phat­i­cally, “I do not lit­ter.”

Power said there is a col­lec­tion of pa­per cups and other items in the cab of his truck, and he would never throw such items away in­dis­crim­i­nately.

The RCMP did not lay a charge against Power, and Sgt. Greg Hicks said the mat­ter is not un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Un­der the High­way Traf­fic Act, lit­ter­ing on the high­way comes with a fine of $115 and reads, “a per­son shall not throw, de­posit or leave on a high­way or­di­nary lit­ter, rub­bish, refuse, waste, glass, nails, tacks, scraps of metal or other waste ma­te­rial.”

A his­tory with lit­ter

The Town of Bay Roberts has waged a long anti-lit­ter­ing cam­paign, and while there have been im­prove­ments, the sit­u­a­tion is far from ideal.

Drive along any pop­u­lar road in the com­mu­nity, and you are sure to find some form of waste, whether it is fast food con­tain­ers, soda cans or house­hold ma­te­ri­als.

The park­ing lot at the Bay Arena is es­pe­cially un­sightly on any given day, de­spite the best ef­forts of arena em­ploy­ees, and the in­stal­la­tion of sur­veil­lance cam­eras around the build­ing.

The is­sue has been tabled at many coun­cil meet­ings, and last year, coun­cil funded a pro­gram to in­stall sig­nage through­out the town, ask­ing res­i­dents “Why Litt­ter!?”

What is lit­ter?

This lat­est de­vel­op­ment begs the ques­tion: what is lit­ter?

In its mu­nic­i­pal by­laws, the Town of Bay Roberts de­fines lit­ter as “any ob­nox­ious sub­stance, waste or un­san­i­tary mat­ter, refuse, garbage rub­bish, ashes, cig­a­rette butts, street clean­ing, dead an­i­mals or fish, pa­per wrap­ping, card­board boxes, tin cans, leaves, wood, oil or oil prod­ucts, bed­ding, crock­ery, glass bot­tles …”

Ac­cord­ing to the above def­i­ni­tion, an ap­ple core could fall into the lit­ter cat­e­gory, though it is not men­tioned specif­i­cally.

Most res­i­dents would balk at the site of an ap­ple core in an open area of the street. Ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous web­sites, it can take up to two months for an ap­ple core to de­com­pose and there is a pos­si­bil­ity that the waste could at­tract ver­min.

Mean­while, Power said his opin­ion on the ques­tion of what is lit­ter is sim­ple: “The cof­fee cup stays in the truck. The ap­ple core goes out. I be­lieve 90 per cent will say I’m right.”

Ge­orge Sim­mons was va­ca­tion­ing in Myr­tle Beach, South Carolina last week. The Com­pass ex­changed sev­eral emails with him, but at­tempts to ar­range an in­ter­view were un­suc­cess­ful.

How­ever, he stressed in an email he was not rep­re­sent­ing the town coun­cil or Bay Roberts at the time and was un­aware that Power was a coun­cil­lor in a neigh­bour­ing com­mu­nity.

Michael Power

Ge­orge Sim­mons

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