Municipal representatives feeling restricted in waste management decisions

Cory Hurley
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Local municipal representatives are saying the decisions pertaining to regional waste management in western Newfoundland are being made from the other side of the province.

According to the Great Humber Joint Council meeting held last week in Norris Point, they are not too happy with it.

Area municipal representatives have been lobbying and negotiating the terms of regional waste management for years. The arguments and debates have been long and varied — from site location to transporting garbage to the associated costs.

Joint council president Roger Barrett, who also sits on the waste management committee, recently took some of his colleagues’ concerns back to the board — of which there is also a technical committee of provincial government employees — table. He asked two questions in writing, and he is frustrated with the response.

The questions were: Has there or will there be any consideration given to a subsidy for smaller towns where in some cases the costs of waste management will double or triple? Will towns be allowed to transport, under their own contract, to the landfill or transfer sites and pay the tipping fees?

The response from Don Downer, chair of the authority, was there is a uniform tipping fee for all communities, so that in essence the larger communities closer to the landfill are subsidizing the smaller ones. Everybody is being treated the same in terms of cost, Downer replied in writing.

Once communities opt out of the system, the costs for the remaining communities increases. It would cause the benefit of a regional system to become null and void, Barrett said they were told.

The response aside, Barrett was not happy with how their questions to the regional service board were handled. He said the responses came from a staffing point of view only, with consultation with representatives of the provincial government. It should have been brought to the board table as a political decision, according to him.

“We were given no opportunity to discuss or comment on either of the two questions that were sent,” he said.

He also said discussion at the board meeting around these issues was then cut short.

Barrett said the continual lobbying efforts of a select few is not making any headway. He suggested all communities — including their residents as a whole — take up the fight.

Some of the municipal representatives seemed surprised to hear reducing municipal waste will have no impact on the projected $200 per household per year cost.

Coun. Elmo Bingle of Deer Lake asked what the point is of recycling and composting from a municipal point of view.

Steady Brook Coun. Leona Gillette agreed.

“We are out there promoting recycling and composting, and trying to train our people,” she said. “It seems to me that we are actually lying to them ... It’s like a step backwards. You are training your people to recycle and do everything properly, yet you are asking them to pay more than they paid the year before.”

Irishtown-Summerside Mayor Tony Blanchard said he plans to fight to maintain the free dumpster service at the landfill site. He said the fees are causing people to illegally dump their waste and also to put their garbage in other dumpsters to avoid paying.

Organizations: Great Humber Joint Council

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Norris Point, Deer Lake Summerside

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