Tom Osborne joins other cabin owners in arguing against construction
A Liberal MHA and cabin owner in the Reids Pond-Peak Pond area, Tom Osborne is adding his voice to those of other property owners concerned about a proposed waste recovery facility for the area.
“I’m raising concerns I guess on two fronts — one as a property owner out there,” he said Friday. “But I do understand that there are people that are much closer to (the development) than my property and there are people far more affected than I am. From an environmental perspective, I know what’s being proposed is very close to the pond out there.”
The pond out there is Peak Pond. Eastern Waste Management has submitted a proposal to the Department of Environment for the establishment of a waste recovery facility adjacent to Peak Pond, about 8 1/2 kilometres from Whitbourne, just off the Trans-Canada Highway.
Cabin owners in the area have been contacting The Telegram, expressing their disapproval with the proposal and calling for a public meeting before any approvals are issued by the Department of Environment.
Osborne was minister of Environment eight years ago. He said he acknowledges the proposed facility is for bulk garbage and not a landfill or collection site for weekly household garbage.
“I do see the need for a transfer station. The government has to move forward with the waste management strategy, but I’m wondering if this is the best possible site and I don’t think it is,” he said.
“There are many other areas that government can look at to put a transfer station that are not in as close a proximity to cabin owners.”
In filing for environmental assessment, Eastern Waste Management stated its planned operations at the site. Its written documentation includes the assurance of the submission of a detailed environmental protection plan before construction and any operations.
A representative for Eastern Waste Management contacted The Telegram Friday to recommend speaking with municipal representatives in the area about the need for the facility to be established as proposed.
Messages left Friday morning with mayors and town offices in surrounding communities received no response as of press time, and no municipalities or municipal representatives expressed support for the facility or site selection.
Yet there have been calls and emails from the area’s cabin owners.
“You’ve got cabins up there — you’ve got $10-million or $15-million (worth) of cabins up there all told. You know, you’ve got a prestige area,” said property owner Gus Larkin, who phoned with questions and to express his concern with the placement of the facility.
“Now my cabin is in Reids Pond and all (people) in there are trying to get everybody on the go with this,” he said.
“I’m in the parade, but I’m not heading the parade,” he said.
“I’m very concerned because it is a beautiful place. It’s in the country. Why are they putting it on the Trans-Canada, about 60, 70 feet off the road? Why don’t they go in and (put it) in Argentia (on Crown land) and they don’t have to buy the land?”
He was referring to the fact Eastern Waste Management does not yet have control of the site proposed for the facility.
The land is privately held by Doreen Cuff of St. John’s, who confirmed a request was made regarding transfer of ownership.
“No, nothing is settled,” said her son, Bob Cuff, who has been dealing with the matter on his mother’s behalf.
He said there are no official offers in place and no court proceedings in regards to the property.
“Eastern Waste, I guess like other government agencies, does have the option of expropriation, but we’re not facing that right now, as near as I know.”
Meanwhile, the properties near the site are not part of a municipality or service district and, when asked if they had contacted anyone about their concerns, several cabin owners said they would be contacting MHA Calvin Peach, the member for Bellevue.
Peach said he received a single phone call on the topic Thursday night and was expecting more calls, despite the cabin area not actually being in his district.
“There’s quite a few people from my district, that’ve got cabins in there and they’ll probably be in touch with me on this,” he said.
“I’m sure that the people that’ve got cabins in that area don’t want to see any kind of a waste facility going near their cabins.”
Peach said the district split actually means the area officially lies in the district of MHA Felix Collins, in Placentia-St. Mary’s. Collins did not respond to a call for an interview as of press time.
Anyone wishing to ask a question, express concern or offer their support for proceeding with
establishing the proposed facility is being encouraged to contact the Department of Environment and Conservation. Comments are due March 25.