Port aux Basques Mayor John Spencer told council that during the recent Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) conference, a representative from central Newfoundland spoke against subsidizing the west coast when it comes to garbage collection.
Spencer said the comments were made in response to a motion by a representative from L’Anse au Clair in southern Labrador requesting funding assistance to ship its waste to the Norris Arm North site for landfilling.
The motion was defeated, with 60 per cent of attendees voting against.
“Quote unquote ‘We’re already subsidizing western Newfoundland and it’s not going to continue,'” reported Councillor Jim Lane, who also attended the conference.
Spencer says the matter is still far from settled, but while the details continue to get hashed out the local response is already becoming more favourable, thanks in part to the recent open house at the Cape Ray transfer station.
Area residents have been taking advantage, dropping off items free of charge on Saturdays in October, signing up for a free $10 credit on their drop off cards, and talking one on one with staff to clear up any lingering questions or confusion, particularly when it comes to tipping fees.
Tipping fees at the station are seven cents per pound or $164 per tonne.
“Central’s tipping fees are a lot cheaper than we’re paying here,” noted Councillor Justin Blacker. “The explanation is the trucking.”
Town manager Leon MacIsaac explained that the trucking costs are not one way. Trucks take landfill items to central, but are obliged to bring back improperly sorted items, and that has to be paid for as well.
“This is a provincial program,” responded Blackler. “Should we be paying more? It’s not our fault. We’re living here, (but) we’ve got to dump it in Norris Arm (North).”
Lined landfills for waste management are located in eastern and central, and all communities along the west coast must ship landfill items to central, a cost that will fall to taxpayers.
“They could have easily had one here in western Newfoundland,” agreed MacIsaac.
While Blackler doesn’t appreciate that area residents will pay more, he did point out that he took five bags of garbage and an empty tar bucket to the depot. The drop off cost about $8, which he doesn’t believe is unreasonable, but he does worry about trickle down costs that taxpayers will face for such things as construction.
Spencer says that was addressed at the MNL conference as well but that was one of the things that would most likely be tweaked. He reported that one estimate given to him put the cost to dispose of an entire roof in the $400 range.
“Shingles by their nature are heavy,” said Spencer. “The CEO (Waste Management) said they’re going to have to take a look at that.”
“In my mind it’s too expensive for everybody and we should be pressuring the government to get something on the west coast,” said Lane. “They’ve got it in central. They’ve got it in eastern. We should have it too.”
Blackler also spoke about fridges that are already being dumped in the woods as people refuse to pay to have appliances decommissioned and properly certified prior to taking them to the site, but Spencer told him that regulation has since been changed so people should just take it there as is.
Like Blackler, he is also worried about large scale illegal dumping, and says that he noticed some of it already being disposed of near the old radio station when he was out walking. It’s not the first time he’s noticed this happen.
“They had a couple of suitcases there and boxes there. I couldn’t believe it.”