Elliott Halliday was taken aback when he heard about Eastern Waste Management’s proposal to establish a waste recovery facility about 8 1/2 kilometres from Whitbourne, alongside the same pond where he has swum and fished with friends and family during cabin visits for all his 17 years.
Elliott and other cabin-goers in the Peak Pond area are starting to voice objections to the proposed waste management facility.
The development was registered for environmental assessment earlier this month and has yet to be approved by the provincial Department of Environment.
Public comments on the project are due March 25.
“My family has owned the cabin there for many, many years and I basically grew up there,” Elliott said.
“It’s an area that has already been stressed by heavy logging ... and there’s also a quarry, I’d say less than a kilometre away from the proposed site. I think it’s just a little bit too much stress on the ecosystem, and it’s such a beautiful place.
“I’d hate to have it stained with such an industrial project there.”
He said there are about 30 cabins at Peak Pond and another 30 or so a short distance away, at Reids Pond.
Eastern Waste Management does not, at this point, own the land between the Trans-Canada Highway and Peak Pond, where it has proposed establishing its ninth waste recovery facility, but it is negotiating for the property.
If approved, the facility will be used for handling bulk garbage rather than weekly household garbage, acting as a satellite to Robin Hood Bay. There are a few extras over existing waste transfer sites, including the addition of a small depot and a possible composting test facility.
“There’s quite a few people who oppose it,” Halliday said, adding he is personally concerned, among other things, with the location in relation to the pond and the potential for runoff from the composting.
Eastern Waste Management has stated the development would go no closer than 30-50 metres to the edge of the pond, and a buffer would be maintained through construction. In addition, “leachate from all stages of the composting process will be collected and managed appropriately,” reads the available project information.
But Halliday’s father, Craig Halliday, still wants a public meeting. He echoed his son’s concerns about the surrounding environment and about property values for the area’s cabin owners, not covered by a municipality or local service district.
“Was there any alternative sites?” he asked. “Why this particular area right on the pond?”
Jamie Neville is another cabin owner in the area and heard about the proposed development through word of mouth. He has read the documentation available through the Department of Environment.
“I just recently read it there and some of the stuff they’re saying about how close or how far it is from the cabins is not correct,” he said, after contacting The Telegram because he was upset by the proposal.
“We use that pond fairly regularly for boating, kids swimming, fishing — and the facility’s built right next to the pond,” he said.
“They even say it in their report that (in the case of composting) there is going to be a large amount of odor, but the prevailing winds don’t blow towards our cabins. But, of course, we know Newfoundland and winds don’t always blow the way you want them to blow,” he said.
“There’s been, I guess, a lot of investment in the last few years, a lot of the newer cabin owners. We’ve had ours for about 10 years.
“My cabin’s probably valued at $250,000 and there’re other ones there that are that or more,” he said, adding some owners stay in the area all year.
Eastern Waste Management board chair Ed Grant was not available to comment Thursday afternoon.
A representative for the waste management board told The Telegram a public meeting is being discussed. Nothing has been scheduled.
Regardless of whether or not the board sets a meeting, the provincial Department of Environment — based upon submissions received on the project — can require further consultation prior to any go-ahead for the new facility.
A spokeswoman for the department said, as with the first step in any environmental assessment, the government is interested in any and all public concerns.
As part of the environmental assessment process, the Department of Environment is accepting any questions, comments and statements of concern in regards to the proposed development by Eastern Waste Management. Submissions on record will be considered in determining the next step in the assessment process — including whether or not a public consultation session is required.
To reach the appropriate representative from the Department of Environment, call 709-729-4211 or toll-free 1-800-563-6181.
Submissions can be sent by mail to:
Director, Environmental Assessment Division
Department of Environment and Conservation
West Block, Confederation Building
P.O. Box 8700, St. John's, NL