Tony Oxford fears illegal garbage dumping will only get worse with changes being made to waste management in the region.
“We’re seeing it now,” said the mayor of Cox’s Cove on Thursday.
“And we’re dealing with the outfall from that now. Not just on the backroads,” he said.
“I think the problem for municipalities is going to shift inside the municipal boundaries.”
The dump in Cox’s Cove was closed in January as part of the Western Regional Waste Management Authority’s plan for the area. Waste from the town now goes to the Wild Cove landfill.
By 2016 Wild Cove, which is operated by the authority, will become a transfer station for waste that will be shipped to a main dump site in central.
Oxford said his town requested that its dump be kept open until the full plan is put in effect, but was denied.
“We’re not adverse to more efficient solid-waste management control, but there’s absolutely nothing to be gained environmentally from closing the site out in Cox’s Cove before the whole system is ready,” said Oxford.
“It’s just another check on their list of things that they are mandated to accomplish.”
Oxford said the closure of the dump meant his town had to revise its budget. “And change the combination of the taxes we charge and the services we offer.”
Taxes didn’t go up this year, but he expects the future increase to be about two mills on personal property.
One obvious increase in the cost to the town is coming through its annual spring cleanup. Last year the town spent $1,100 disposing of waste that generally is not part of regular waste collection and this year has budgeted for $2,400.
“After we’ve expended that we’re going to revisit it to see if it met our needs,” he said.
Meanwhile, Oxford was not aware that as of Monday it will cost everyone in the region to dump waste at the Wild Cove landfill.
The Cox’s Cove council met on Wednesday night and Oxford said there was no discussion on the changes.
“I would either say to you ‘well now that’s how much I know, or that’s how good they can communicate.’”
He added it’s something he’s certain the town clerk would have brought to council’s attention.
Overall, Oxford feels that the regional authority is not taking any responsibility and he finds that irritating because the Municipalities Act gives responsibility for waste management to municipalities. He said the authority has usurped part of the authority, but none of the responsibility.
Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender shares many of the same concerns over illegal dumping and pointed to charges laid this week in St. John’s where a waste management system has existed for a number of years.
“Whether it (the cost to use the landfill) makes more people throw their garbage out in the woods or not, it’s always going to be a concern no matter what,” said Pender.
Even it if was free to dump waste at the landfill, he said, people would still dump it elsewhere.
“Unfortunately, we have certain people who think it’s their God given right to throw their garbage into the environment and have no concern for anybody else.”
Pender said the city does have surveillance cameras available to it and has identified areas where they could be used. He said until people are hurt by fines they’re going to keep dumping their garbage.
With the changes and fee system about to be introduced, Pender also sees a need for education.
“Which I’m hoping that the western waste management board along with the MMSB (Multi-materials Stewardship Board) is going to be stepping up on the west coast because this is a new system coming here,” he said. “But I really haven’t seen the educational component that should have precluded the introduction of the cards. The problem is that they’ve introduced the cards before they’ve clarified for people what exactly this means.”
He said there needs to be some explanation on how it will work and what the costs would be to dispose of certain items.
“Just putting comments onto your website is not going to cut it.”