Most faces around the Great Humber Joint Council have changed, the ministers have rotated numerous times too, but for the better part of a decade waste management has dominated many monthly discussions.
It was no different Saturday when municipal representatives of the area got together in Irishtown-Summerside.
Joint council chair Roger Barrett, mayor of Reidville, provided an update on waste management — informing the group of just what exactly the suggested $200 per household per year waste management fee will include.
He said it includes the curbside pick-up, shipping garbage to the transfer station and then on to the landfill in Norris Arm. It also includes all administration, equipment, and operating costs, said Barrett.
Barrett said there is still hope that it could be less than the $200 per household per year — through measures such as recycling, composting and diverting waste — but it is also unknown how long it will remain at $200.
“For the past six or seven years, we have stayed at that figure,” he said. “I think it is a reasonable figure. If we can come in less, obviously we will try to come in less. If you are asking me if it will be $200, 20 years down the road ... I can’t tell you.”
The cost of waste management in the future is still a big concern for municipalities. It sparked some lively discussion again Saturday.
Not everybody around the table agrees with Barrett’s assessment the $200 figure is reasonable. In fact, Mount Moriah Coun. Joe Park said his town will not pay that much for waste management. The small town on the south shore of the Bay of Islands is paying less than $100 per household per year and he said its residents can’t afford this increase.
“There is no damn way in hell, pardon my language, that the Town of Mount Moriah is going to dish out $200 per household per year — of mostly seniors — to the Newfoundland and Labrador government for garbage collection,” he said.
The age-old debate returned about whether the waste should even be shipped to Norris Arm. Having a western landfill was always the preference of Great Humber Joint Council and it appears that still has not changed.
Coun. Jean Young of Deer Lake said people must stay demonstrative against the additional fees and the shipping of waste into central. As she has done publicly previously, Young still questions the environmental advantage of shipping waste across the province.
“We should not lie down and take it,” she said.
Some around the table feel they are now stuck with this system and the cost, so the only response is to decrease the amount of waste that will have to be shipped to the landfill in Norris Arm. The focus has to be on recycling, composting and re-using waste, council members stated.
A request for a transportation subsidy was long denied by the provincial government, but Lark Harbour Mayor John Parsons is asking for another approach to help offset the burden to small towns.
“The crunch is coming,” he said. “I think communities are starting to realize the actual costs associated with it. Can we look at it from the perspective of the communities are coming forward and is there any kind of community subsidy to help out those communities who will struggle?”
Barrett will take that proposal back to the Western Regional Waste Management Committee to see if anything can be requested.