Cover it up

Bonnie Belec
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Garbage bylaw takes effect Monday; group would like to see it in effect all year

Seagulls and crows, consider being forewarned — the all-you-can-eat garbage buffet is about to close.

The City of St. John’s reminds residents that garbage has to be covered as of Monday. — Telegram file photo

As of Monday, St. John’s residents are required to once again cover or contain their garbage with blankets, nets or bins with a lid.

 And whether you agree with it or not, it is a law that came into effect Aug. 1, 2006, and not abiding by it could result in a fine of up to a maximum of $5,000. There is no minimum set out in the city’s bylaws and regulations.

Council has been known to be lenient for the first few weeks, but after that residents will be ticketed.

A news release issued Friday to remind residents of the rule says the “measures are in place to reduce the amount of litter on streets, parks and open spaces.”

Karen Hickman, St. John’s Clean and Beautiful’s executive director, said the move has helped to control litter, but she would like to see it in effect year-round.

“It has made a difference from April to November, but the problem is the rest of the time litter is being created from December to March,” she told The Telegram Friday.

“In my opinion it would be better to have it covered at all times and we would love to see council revisit it,” Hickman said.

She said when they had lobbied for it before they were told by council there were challenges imposing it in winter conditions. She said she was also told the cold weather prevents the garbage from smelling bad, causing the seagulls to be less attracted to it, therefore reducing the need for coverage.

But she downplayed the theory, saying she has often seen seagulls picking at garbage in the winter.

Aside from the pests, Hickman said another good reason to cover garbage and recyclables is the province’s wind.

A prime example was on recycling day in her area this week, when she saw blue bags and recyclable material flying around the roads, she said.

The bags had been blown into traffic, struck by cars and torn open.

“If they were covered it would have helped keep the mess off the road. We live in a windy city, so it makes perfect sense. I don’t know why it isn’t done year-round,” said Hickman.

If it does come before council again, Coun. Jonathan Galgay, chairman of the public works committee, said he wouldn’t support it.

“It does help somewhat, but I wouldn’t support having it all winter long because I still have questions about the effectiveness of it in the summer time,” he said.

First elected to council in October, Galgay said he asked around what the rationale was behind not imposing the ban 12 months of the year.

He said it basically comes down to nuisance issues by having to deal with the difficulties of Newfoundland winters such as mounds of snow, snowplows and the potential for blankets and nets to get caught up in the equipment.

“Some people love it and some people hate it,” said Galgay.

“Personally speaking, I understand nets do assist in keeping seagulls away, but it’s not 100 per cent. I double bag mine because I use industrial bags in my garage. It’s just as good as having a net over it. I’ve come home before and crows have had the net off my garbage,” he said.

In addition to the dirty, wet blankets people opt to use, Galgay said he’s received several phone calls from people telling him they have had their nets stolen more than once,  and out of frustration, they refuse to do it anymore.

 “Once I see statistics, that’s when I’ll make a judgment call, but at this point in time it does curb it a little bit, but not 100 per cent,” he said.

Council has tossed around the idea of implementing a garbage cart pilot project, but it hasn’t been done yet.

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Lawrence Dicks
    April 02, 2014 - 10:45

    I used to live out in bay Roberts where at the end of every drive way is a garbage box that you put your garbage in and on garbage day the garbage truck comes around and they take the garbage from the box. Most boxes are made of wood and usually painted to look nice. They don't be any means look bad. Why can't St. John's use garbage boxes it keeps the birds out, your garbage doesn't blow away and it looks clean.

  • EDfromRED
    March 30, 2014 - 16:07

    Thank God here around the bay we don't have to adhere to endless, nonsensical, loony rules and regulations. Any organic garbage I have gets tossed out in the backyard, where appreciative family's of Ravens and Crows dispose of it in no time flat. Nature is a much better garbage disposer than man will ever be.

  • fogNL
    March 29, 2014 - 15:21

    That's weird, I'm looking at a pamphlet that arrived yesterday bundled with my assessment from the City of St. john's, that states: "The 'St. John's Covering of Garbage Placed for Collection By-Law' requires all garbage put out for collection be covered from May 1 to Nov. 30 each year." And this article is stating April 1st, so which is it?

  • mainlander
    March 29, 2014 - 10:00

    Mundy, that would make sense. But it would also cost money & they won't spend $ on practical stuff. It's like the snow clearing. Mount Pearl has always had excellent snow clearing. If St. john's wants to know how to do it right, they should look next door @ Mt. Pearl. Instead, they spend all their time trying to amalgamate and ruin all the great services the Pearl has.

  • Anne Hoskins
    March 29, 2014 - 09:15

    I separate my garbage. I put food scraps into an empty milk carton. I read in "Hints from Heloise" that organic garbage can be stored in a freezer until garbage day.

  • Frank
    March 29, 2014 - 09:06

    From what I've seen, St. John's Clean & Beautiful is a collection of busy-body ladies-who-lunch, too concerned with the satisfaction they get from imposing behaviour on the populace to notice that the streets look WORSE on garbage day, because now EVERY house has an eyesore on the front lawn, long after the garbage has been taken away.

  • C O'Brien
    March 29, 2014 - 08:59

    Who is going to keep paying for the nets??? I live a couple of miles from the dump, as the Crow flies, and have rarely seen garbage strewn across the road. If this is implemented year round, Is city hall going to reimburse me for the nets/blankets/tarps??After my garbage is collected, the net is dumped on the ground, waiting for the plow to come and sweep it up before I get home.My net is currently buried under snow and I cant get at it. So now I have to buy a new one?? too much regulation and government interference in a problem that is way too overblown, at least in my area..

  • Just me
    March 29, 2014 - 07:45

    I use a garbage can, but I don't live downtown. I have a place to put it but winter is a problem. Most people are gone to work when the truck goes by so nets will be there all day. Then they are stolen or covered in snow. Another problem is people putting it out the night before. Wait for the snow to go.

  • Joe
    March 29, 2014 - 07:31

    The law says April 1st which is Tuesday.

  • mundy
    March 29, 2014 - 06:24

    Why can St. John's implement a system like they are using in Mt Pearl. The bin system works just fine with no gulls or mess to worry about.