Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender has never supported the decision to ship waste from western Newfoundland to Norris Arm, and is now critical of how the process is progressing.
“I always said it didn’t make sense for us to be trucking waste to a central facility,” he said Monday, when asked about comments made during the Great Humber Joint Council meeting Saturday.
“Unfortunately, in the last four years that decision was made, even though when I was on the waste management board we kept pushing to use either Wild Cove or a site very near Pasadena.”
Pender said establishing a regional waste management facility at a western location would have been more appropriate. He is also critical of the previous city council for not being more vocal in opposition of the decision.
“Whoever the decision makers were — whether it was the province, the engineering firm, or the regional authority — made those decisions, and it seemed there was very little concern raised from the City of Corner Brook to say they had an issue with that,” he said.
Western has lost out because of that decision, the mayor says.
“The investment has been made in the central facility, so basically we threw away $35 million or $40 million worth of investment into a local facility,” he said. “We threw away the 60 or 70 jobs that would have gone with waste treatment.”
Pender said there is uncertainty about what exactly is being done and planned for the region. Whether that is because it is unknown or hasn’t been communicated, he is not sure.
While the board is only now getting established, the mayor said there is a lot of concern about costs related to shipping the waste to central, the operation of the landfill, the process of separating waste, how the waste will be collected and education programs. He also said there has been nothing said about what infrastructure investments will be made throughout the western region and how they will be financed.
“I don’t know what they are and, as the mayor of the largest municipality on the west coast, I think we deserve to know those things,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Bernd Staeben and Coun. Keith Cormier have been appointed to the board and Pender said they will be seeking answers on behalf of the city.
Currently, the mayor estimates residents of Corner Brook are paying about $85 per household per year for waste management. The total is about $850,000-$900,000 for the city.
The cost per household per year is expected to reach about $200.
This year, the city did not implement any increases in taxes to its residents. Pender acknowledged it will get harder to maintain that in the years ahead. He has also been told the cost of waste management for some local businesses has risen by 300 per cent.
“We want to bring those concerns to the waste board and to the minister (of Municipal Affairs Steve Kent),” he said.