Amidst continued criticism, the Western Regional Waste Management Authority keeps on trucking.
The two biggest criticisms of the future of waste management in western Newfoundland continues to be shipping the garbage to Norris Arm and the associated cost. Neither issue is new, but even a couple of years after the decision and information has been revealed municipal representatives continue to express them.
The most recent criticism came during a Great Humber Joint Council meeting about three weeks ago.
Council representatives throughout the area still have concerns about affordability when it comes to the estimated $200 per household per year charge for waste management. It is up from less than $100 per household per year that many residents in municipalities have to pay through taxes now.
Although this has been known for years, and communities were warned to prepare, it is still considered too high by many. It is expected to cause considerable tax increases in most, if not all, communities.
“There are lots of precedence across the province,” Don Downer, chair of the authority, said Saturday.
“Eastern and central, both of these regional areas, are staying within that $200. I only know of one place where there is a slight increase from that.
“We haven’t changed our view on the $200 and we are working towards it.”
Meanwhile, the authority continues to plan on such things as recycling programs that would hopefully help reduce operating costs.
Downer said negotiations are happening to keep such initiatives local.
Council representatives have again suggested government impose a subsidy of some sort to assist communities with the cost.
Downer said it is disappointing to hear the debate continue about the decision to ship waste to central Newfoundland. He has been convinced, for a long time, that the costs associated with a western site and trucking waste to central are practically the same — as was determined by the consultant.
With the decision made, he said the authority must plan ahead based on that. The capital money is provided by government, he noted, and that determines how to proceed.
With criticism of that decision continuing and a change in premier or a pending provincial election creating uncertainty, Downer appears to at least be considering the whole thing could see massive changes in the future.
“The full-fledged facility that central has, to repeat that at say Birchy ridge 200 kilometres away to take care of 150,000 people doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “We may ultimately end up doing it. If a government says they want to want to put it there for the 20 or 30 jobs, I suppose we won’t have much choice but to go along with that.”
Meanwhile, the authority continues to work toward taking over the interim waste sites, which will become transfer stations.
An agreement is still being worked out to operate the Wild Cove site and a new building has been built there and a data management system is being implemented.
Downer said a similar process is happening in St. George’s.
Tipping fees are also being established, he said.