Residential drop-off rules considered for city dump

Andrew Robinson
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Some businesses abuse system, get rid of garbage for free, official says

City staff is recommending new rules for residents who drop off garbage and recyclables at the Robin Hood Bay Waste Management Facility in St. John’s to limit commercial abuse of the service.

This image shows the current waste management facility at Robin Hood Bay on the province’s east coast.

According to the agenda for tonight’s council meeting, deputy city manager of public works Paul Mackey will recommend that council approve the proposed rule changes.

Commercial users are required to pay a tipping fee for garbage dropped off at the facility, but users of the residential drop-off (RDO) service can avail of it at no cost.

In a memorandum prepared by Robin Hood Bay’s manager of waste and recycling operations, Steve Colford said that while some informal guidelines have been developed since the free-to-use residential drop-off site opened, no formal rules have been put in place.

“Unfortunately, some commercial companies in the region are abusing the system by disposing of garbage from their business free of charge at the RDO,” wrote Colford in the memo.

Rental property owners, companies or residents who flip houses for quick profit and home contractors building one or two homes at a time are among those found to be abusing the system. Colford said legitimate commercial haulers are basically subsidizing those who unfairly use the residential drop-off site. He also identified other issues.

“Commercial businesses using the RDO bins can lead to increased wait times for the legitimate user,” he said in the memo.

“As well, it has resulted in a loss of tipping fees to the facility and an extra cost for transporting the waste to the main landfill.

The memo continued: “It has also resulted in increased staff time being spent dealing with the violators and claims of harassment by the individuals who are being questioned about the waste they are bringing in.”

The proposed rules cover four areas — vehicles themselves, the number of trips they make, documentation and household hazardous waste. Only small vehicles weighing up to one tonne will be permitted to drop-off waste at the residential site. If a vehicle has a trailer, it must not exceed 3.5 metres in length. Larger vehicles and commercial vehicles will be sent to the main landfill, where they must present a permit and pay tipping fees.

The new rules would also limit the number of annual visits to 16. Residents dropping off construction or demolition materials related to renovations or building a new home must have a municipal permit valued at less than $5,000 with them. In terms of household hazardous waste, none related to commercial use will be accepted — businesses will have to use a private hazardous materials handling company.

In 2013, RDO served approximately 180,000 vehicles at the Robin Hood Bay facility, resulting in 16,420 tonnes of waste, 165 tonnes of recycling and 1,350 tonnes of metal. For those where licence plate numbers were recorded, 99.8 per cent made 16 trips or less. One particular vehicle made 42 trips to the RDO in 2013.

Geographic location: Robin Hood Bay

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Recent comments

  • Annie
    May 26, 2014 - 20:28

    Not liking the new regulations. As someone who travels regularly, I often take my garbage to the dump when I head out of town. I did realize that city hall needed to regulate a service I pay for through my taxes. Don't think I am the 42 times person but I am sure I am more than 16.

  • Sherry
    May 26, 2014 - 19:41

    I agree with P.F. Murphy! The city has problems now with illegal dumping. What do you think is going to happen when all these multiple property owners and contractors etc. have to pay to dump? You'll see a rise in illegal dumping. It won't save the city money! It will cost more to pay city workers to remove the waste and it will cost more in surveillance cameras and staff to review camera footage. And limiting drop off trips to 16 will affect some home owners. It will affect me. I live fairly close. I go if I miss garbage day, or if I have large cardboard boxes that I figure would be difficult for workers to put in the truck unless I cut it up. I regularly drop off my recycling etc myself on a regular basis. I'm making/giving the city money with all the recyclables I blue bag. Guess I'll be keeping all those bottles for myself from now on and there will be more bags at the curb for sanitation workers to lift! Pfft how about working to better our city instead of focusing on making life for tax payers more difficult. In hindsight I wish I'd bought my home in Mt. Pearl, Paradise or C.B.S.!

  • J Haynes
    May 26, 2014 - 19:25

    The dump is great with the access and Saturday opening. I do not want the city to increase cost of operation by logging and recording who and the number of visits etc. That is a waste of a human resource. Tend to agree with limits on size but if a contractor wants they will simply use smaller units. Re number of visits if they do record, 16 is way to few. With a missed collection here and there or a puchase of somthing withs lots of packaging it would not take much to exceed 16 per year. Leave well enough alone and go after do not need to put a pamper on all residents of St. John's because one of us pooped in our pants! T is a great convenience and effort to speed up process not slow it down would be better time spent. JRH

  • jerome
    May 26, 2014 - 17:50

    Once again, the city doesn't have a clue, the worst council ever. The dump should be open longer if anything, if indeed they don't want us dumping in the woods. En courage people to do the right thing not continue to put up roadblocks. All this council knows how to do is spend , spend , spend. Maybe we can get a study done on that !

  • jerome
    May 26, 2014 - 17:49

    Once again, the city doesn't have a clue, the worst council ever. The dump should be open longer if anything, if indeed they don't want us dumping in the woods. En courage people to do the right thing not continue to put up roadblocks. All this council knows how to do is spend , spend , spend. Maybe we can get a study done on that !

  • S.S.
    May 26, 2014 - 17:45

    This is crazy. Everything is rules and more rules around here......

  • M
    May 26, 2014 - 16:01

    This is not entirely about contractors abusing the system. This about collecting more fees for a service that is underfunded in its present state. Unfortunately the extra fees will be used to pay overtime to city staff who will have to clean up the illegal dump sites that will pop up in the region as contractors and weekend warriors look to avoid the tax. This is yet again another really bad idea by city staff. Hopefully Council will have the sense to reject this idea and move to a better way to police the very few abusers of their system.

  • m
    May 26, 2014 - 14:19

    I visited the site this past w/e. I waited over an hour to dump a few pieces of wood. If you want to fix this system, start by operating 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first 6 weeks of spring/summer. Most people work 9-5, hence their 8-4 hours just don't work. I also noticed that about 1/ 2 the dumping bays were vacant... why not allow all the bays to be used at once. Why not have a handful of dumpster sites around the city.. why does everyone have to drive all the way out to Robinhood bay to wait in line for an hour? 10 foot trailer limit? what the heck is that. Most NL'ers have 12-16 foot snowmobile trailers... that's what we enjoy doing... so now I have to buy an additional trailer for Robinhood Bay trips? Just who comes up with this stuff. I've never lived in a city with so much 'in your face BS!' Go after the abusers... not me who makes the trip 3 times a year! to Jon - 1 ton is not the weight of the vehicle, its the cargo capacity! (i.e 1/2 ton pick up truck has a payload of 1000 pounds!)

  • Jon
    May 26, 2014 - 11:09

    Has anyone bothered to look up what a 1 metric ton vehicle would be? By this standard, a Hyundai Accent would be considered a large vehicle and be sent to the main landfill. Where do they find these "City Staffers".....

    • Andrew Robinson
      May 26, 2014 - 14:12

      Interesting point. Just looked again at what's said in the memo — "Accept only small vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickups and vans up to 1 ton)." Not sure whether to interpret this as the 1-ton rule applying to all vehicles or just vans. Would make more sense if it applies to just vans, as the weight of a small car like the Accent would exceed 1 ton.

  • Jay
    May 26, 2014 - 10:24

    Regressive thinking at its best. Council's theme song should be '"Rules, rules, everywhere a rule..........Do this, don't do that, can't you read the rules

  • anna
    May 26, 2014 - 09:14

    Is it me or is this council sitting at home trying to think of new ways to make life difficult for the taxpayers? Instead of trying to fix existing problems, they are dreaming up new ways to create more. No where in this article did it mention anything about enforcing drivers to have their garbage covered when they arrive at the Waste management. Drive along the Outer Ring and see what happens when this is not enforced.

  • James J.
    May 26, 2014 - 08:36

    The new policy stinks! It is bureaucracy unable to leave well enough alone. Must find way to squeeze more cash out of citizens. Will slow whole process down, increase paper work, and add labour costs to ferret out a few people who might be using the dump too much - at least from council's perspective. Next there'll be 20 questions - starting with where did that old door come from?

  • P F Murphy
    May 26, 2014 - 07:47

    Well, another case of Council shooting themselves in the foot. The stuff now gets to the dump whether some commercial stuff goes in unpaid, it gets there. Now with fewer possible trips by residents and only paid trips for our commercial dodgers, there will be more country-side dumping despite Councils cameras. Like the old saying, what they'll gain on their paid accounts, they'll find dumped on their round-abouts. It's working well so don't screw it up, BUT then this is St. John's City Council so what would we expect, eh?

  • JR Malone
    May 26, 2014 - 07:09

    Does the City want more people to dump things in the woods? Cause this is exactly how you encourage people to dump more things in the woods.

  • Voter
    May 26, 2014 - 05:46

    ONE vehicle made 42 trips. ONE? Can't Council deal with the abuser without having to adopt more rules and regulations?