Cabin owners can’t opt out of garbage scheme

Barb Sweet
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A Witless Bay Line cabin owner thinks a plan by Eastern Waste Management to impose garbage pickup fees is rubbish.

The St. John’s man, who didn’t want to be named, said his family found a letter at their cabin on the weekend informing them that they will have to pay $180 a year for a garbage collection service.

Mostly, the man and his wife are the only ones who use the cabin, which his parents built in the 1950s. There’s been a long tradition of taking garbage back to St. John’s and, in recent years, that includes sorting for recycling.

“Most people take it back with them. We’ve been doing it for 58 years,” the man said.

“We’re still going to be doing it. We’re not going to leave it there. … They are forcing this on you. It’s something we don’t want and we don’t need.”

The man is against leaving the garbage behind because he doesn’t want it to attract rodents and other animals, and said a weekly garbage pickup schedule and biweekly recycling collection will see garbage piled up and causing problems.

If people are at the cabin on a weekend and their pickup day is the middle of or later in the week, the garbage could attract bears, coyotes and other destructive critters, the man said.

He and his wife bring a supermarket bag full of garbage with them back to town after they’ve been at the cabin for a weekend. They open the cabin around the May 24 weekend and close it in November, but they aren’t out there every weekend.

So, out of 26 weeks, they might — using a generous estimate — produce 10 bags of garbage. And at that extreme maximum, each bag would cost them $18 under the pickup scheme.

There is no opting out.

“Please note all property owners pay the same rate regardless of usage of their property,” states the letter to Witless Bay Line cabin owners, similar to one that was sent to another cabin community, Deer Park, where garbage collection started this summer.

“There is no provision of exemption other than a property being vacant and deemed uninhabitable, i.e. boarded up, no power connection, etc.”

The man and his wife had the power hooked up about two years ago.

No collection schedule has been announced, but the garbage is either to be put at the end of a property or the nearest right of way and should be contained in bins or boxes.

The cabin owner said the road isn’t serviced — it’s the old Witless Bay Line — and is not plowed in winter. If anyone goes to their cabin by snowmobile and leaves garbage at the end of the road, it’s likely to be plowed over and strewn all around before collection, he said.

Garbage collection for Witless Bay Line is supposed to start in January 2015. A contract is expected to be awarded to a private contactor this fall.

Eastern Waste Management, operated by the not-for-profit Eastern Regional Service Board, was created by the province to oversee waste management in the region.

The cabin owner said there’s not much illegal garbage dumping now in his cabin neighbourhood and this plan won’t solve that problem anyway.

“Those who throw it in the woods, they are going to throw it in the woods anyway,” he said, adding he can understand such a plan for communities with year-round livyers.

There are none in his cabin area, he said.

Board chairman Ed Grant said some people have been asking for the service, while others have resisted and taken the board to small claims court, or else the board has taken them to small claims. But he said Eastern Waste Management has made a successful case each time.

The board hopes to get the legislation changed so it can attach a tax lien against property owners who won’t pay.

But Grant said the fee can’t be exempted for those who don’t want the service.

“The fee is not so onerous it’s going to cause cabin owners to sell their properties. It’s $180 a year. I live in Mount Pearl. I don’t use Metrobus, but I pay for it,” he said.

Eastern Waste Management has also established a waste recovery facility in Bay Bulls where residents can drop off bulk materials.

The service, Grant noted, also includes a few bulk pickups.

Within the next year or two all cabin communities in the region will be brought into the plan, now that Eastern Waste Management has got municipalities and local service districts sorted out.

If cabins are extremely remote, they likely won’t be on a garbage route, but Eastern Waste Management is looking at a type of community dumpster for tiny communities.

Organizations: Witless Bay Line, Waste Management, Eastern Regional Service Board

Geographic location: Deer Park, Mount Pearl, Bay Bulls

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Recent comments

  • Mindy
    August 08, 2014 - 08:47

    I hope the people of the Witless Bay Line are not forced into paying for this collection. The "some" people who wanted pick-up let them pay as they wish, I'am a cabin owner on an un-serviced road and I will surely fight if they try to charge for garbage pick up in my area. I take my waste with me which is usually only bottles and cans. We have a small covered container where our debris is burned, We do not leave any waste around for animals or to attract any un-wanted animals. We had to get the right number of people to agree in order to get power to our road so why was there not a poll taken to see if garbage pick-up was wanted or needed by these people. As for Mr. Grant you pay not only for Metro Bus but you pay in-directly for a large number of services when you pay your municpal taxes. These people do not have any services and you expect them to pay for garbage pick-up which they can handle on their own. Good luck to the people of The Witless Bay Line --- Hope you are not forced into paying for this service.

  • Tracy
    August 07, 2014 - 19:53

    This is pure robbery if you ask me!! We have a cabin that we go to on weekends...we too were up in arms about the mandatory implementation of this cost upon us...I wrote letters to my MHA, Eastern Waste Management, and the committee for the southern shore who were homeowners in the communities....just like those on witless bay line, we always took our garbage with us to put with our own home garbage on our pick up day... This idiotic idea should not be imposed upon seasonal homeowners without their is a service that should be optional!!!! After getting no positive feedback from our MHA, we were forced to pay it, along with interest!!! So we got our nice garbage box, pay $180 per year, put our small bag of garbage in it on Sunday when we leave, and MANY times return next week to see the bag still there!!!!!! If we skip a weekend going to the cabin, the boys in the truck don't bother to check it!!! They got their money, now we don't even get proper service!!! Plus in the winter...when it snows...they don't bother to check the garbage box, as we are not there to shovel it out for the pick up day, which is 2 days after we leave to go to our permanent residence!!! If there is fight to cut out the seasonal homeowners.....please count me in!!! I have wasted 3 years of paying crooks already!!!!

  • DW
    August 07, 2014 - 19:14

    My concern about this summer if you leave your garbage on roadside on a Sunday, and it doesn't get picked up til Wed. ain't no net going to keep it protected. In winter if you leave it on the roadside, by the time the road is ploughed you will never find it anyways. Whoever comes up with the ideas need to sit down and figure out the proper way to do things. Bringing it back to St. johns and putting it with the garbage I am already paying to be collected makes hell of a lot more sense. You don't need to be a genius to figure that out! Be better to pay the extra money to the fire department!

  • mw
    August 07, 2014 - 14:19

    As others have said, part time users already pay EWM at another location, so this is an unfair double payment. You can;t make garbage in two places at once. EWM ought to provide the option of a per bag fee for seasonal residents. A fee could be charged for a book of stickers to be used on a per/bag basis. Similarly a bulk pick-up fee could be applied to those that use that service

  • Not Impressed
    August 07, 2014 - 14:06

    As one who has a Cabin on the line, I don't understand how they can come to a random vacation spot on a dirt road and say they are doing this and we have no choice? We are under no municipality, no one but property owners up there pay for up keep or snow clearing of the road. What they are saying, that even if the road is snowed in for 5 months of the year, and I still go in on my snowmobile or ATV to use my cabin, I can't leave my garbage out because they won't (NOT CAN'T) come get it, and have to take it home, but still have to pay? Mr. Grant comes off as a man with complete ignorance in this article. Basically putting it out there, you can try to take us to court, but it's pointless and you will lose? I cannot see how it is legal for them to do it. I know I, along with most, will be fighting this unless they want to come and provide up keep and snow clearing of the line. But if Light and power won't do it, or the Company with the fiber op cable running down on the poles that the PROPERTY OWNERS paid for to have power put in place, then I doubt they will either.

  • Max Roe
    August 07, 2014 - 13:11

    Tax grab! Eastern Waste Mgmt wants to expand its coverage as a means to try (for now) to keep its costs down/increase revenue. EWM believes it can accomplish this policy by taxing every property on the Avalon (entire Province next), whether the service makes sense or not; and this Grant person threatens small claims court to scare the little sheep into submission. Who does he think he is? Can someone at the Telegram investigate, using the ATIPPA, the salary and admin costs of Eastern Waste Mgmt and publish same ('Waste' is the operative word here). PLEASE, everyone with a cabin or travel trailer (you'll be paying an extra fee in the parks soon) contact your MHA and speak loud and clear before the next election. This type of nanny-state forced taxation must be stopped before it gains momentum.

    • Tracey
      August 12, 2014 - 22:44

      I contacted my MHA (George Murphy) - he did nothing. I contacted Lorraine Michael - no response. I contacted the premier - no response. No one cares.

  • Jim H
    August 06, 2014 - 22:17

    Well intentioned, but dumb. Leaving garbage for pickup when the cabins are only used occasionally and unlikely to be during garbage pick up days is looking for more liter. Most places make it illegal to put trash out the evening before let alone in the country days before so it does not get torn apart by wildlife, two legged or otherwise. Responsible cabin owners who bring it out with them are being punished because a few $$@holes toss it in the woods. Catch them and deal with them. The solution approved is like putting a pamper on all folks in town because one pooped their pants!

  • rip off
    August 06, 2014 - 21:25

    We have a cabin on Witless Bay Line and got the same notice, I understand the fact that you have to pay for services and waste management, great idea!! My biggest peeve is the fact that this road is used by Light and Power on a very regular basis, its also declared as a registered Groomed Snowmobile Trail by whom I don't now! But not one penny comes from Light and Power or whoever reg this road as a groomed trail to maintain this road. The road is only accessible in the winter by snowmobile, and as a property owner, I can safely say, people pass our cabin so fast on snowmobiles that you cant even see them, which means my kids cant go outside to go sliding in the winter. And when spring comes it shows the damage done to the roads by the packed down ice. The roads are so poor that they are mostly inaccessible by car, there are collapsed culverts on the main river leading into Country Pond which runs into the dam that light and power uses and it keeps getting worse and will soon affect the run of the river and kill the fish there. In which we cannot afford to lose as the pond has already suffered a tremendous loss of fish due to the water levels and the hot temps. Walk around the pond right now and you will see thousands of fish dead and rotted lying on the shores. Smells like middle cove not Country Pond! We as cabin owners can upkeep the road to some degree, but in the same token are not allowed by law to interfere with the rivers, or streams or the wildlife that depend on these to live. We , as cabin owners feel that, as waste management is important, so is the preservation of rivers and dams and the roads leading to them to maintain them. And if your going to get serious about waste management Shouldnt some of these other important issues be addressed as well? I mean if your going to start somewhere there are more important issues that need to be addressed than waste management first. And what about people with campers who leave them up there year round? Do they get the same bill?Or do we pay for them to? Just like we do with light and power and the snowmobile trail groomers? Come on give us a break government we cant pay for you all!!!!

  • Bonnie
    August 06, 2014 - 16:22

    Ed Grant is quoted as saying in this article that "some" people have been asking for the service. What about "most " people that haven't been asking and don't want the service. Why does every cabin owner have to pay for a service that only "some" cabin owners want? Was every cabin owner asked what their thoughts were on this issue before the decision to implement this service came about? Was there a vote taken from each and every cabin owner on whether or not they wanted this service? There won't be any garbage to collect from many cabins during the fall and winter months as many cabins are not accessible anyway. I think the people deserve to have their concerns heard instead of being threatened with small claims court (also quoted in this article by Ed Grant). Thank you

  • Steve
    August 06, 2014 - 14:40

    So, cabin owners who live in municipalities will pay the fee TWICE, despite producing the same amount of garbage. (Two people will produce the same amount of garbage during a given week regardless of whether they're at their home or at their cabin). In the law, being charged twice with the same crime is called 'Double Jeopardy', and it's not allowed. The same thing should be applied here. Cabin owners almost universally clean up after themselves. If there are a few violators who don't, go after them. Don't charge responsible land owners $180 per year for a service we already pay for out of our municipal taxes. Seeing as many people only spend a few weeks per year at their cabins, this fee, which is year-round, is ridiculous. This is basically just a cash grab. Despite the words 'not for profit' being used to describe the ERSB, the tendered contracts are for private business, who are probably drooling at the prospect of $180 per household for what will amount to seasonal and very intermittent waste output.

    • Mike Fitzpatrick
      August 07, 2014 - 12:15

      Steve is spot on. Follow the money. Contractors win in this muddled minded policy. Snowed in roads will not be serviced with garbage pick up. And how about those "some cabin owners"? Who are they? Is Ed grant one of 'em? What a convoluted and irresponsible government we have these days. First basic servicing of our cabin roads are abandoned by gov't and now we have unelected stuffed shirts dictating policy in a quasi fascist like fashion. $180.00 per year is outrageous Mr Grant. No doubt easy peasy for you though on your salary. My guess is that this horrid policy will wind up going the way of that crazy School Tax Authority some years back and you will have to bear the brunt (read responsibility) of a huge waste of cabin taxpayer's money as well as your agency's resources. Stand down from this policy while you still can and save some face at the same time. Thank you for the space to share my view on this matter. Mike F

  • makeithappen
    August 06, 2014 - 09:48

    Just to continue on with this article. My mother also has a cabin in Spread Eagle, Old Shop and she received the same bill sometime last year. She also takes her 1 bag of garbage with her when she leaves the cabin and is furious at this. She called Eastern Waste and told her she didn't feel it was right to pay it and they said her name would get put in the credit bureau if she didn't pay it. She called her MP and he basically said there was nothing he could do. It's total robbery that people are forced to pay money for a service they do not want?!? My mother only uses the cabin half the year, in the wintertime it is shut down. I believe this should be looked into further.

    • James
      August 06, 2014 - 13:58

      That's what occurs in a socialist society. A good chunk of my taxes go towards health and education. Haven't had a sick day or need to see a doctor or ER visit in 3 years and have no kids in school. Does that mean I should get a significant rebate in my taxes? No. It's the same argument you make but on a smaller scale.

  • Ken Collis
    August 06, 2014 - 08:59

    Eastern Waste Management is getting out of control, and to say that it is not for profit gives a false perception to the whole scheme. It doesn't make a profit as a business but everyone working there is very well paid, and the incentive is there to keep developing the scheme to get more and more money from the public. The fee of $180 is not onerous but add it to the motor vehicle registration, snowmobile permit, electronic device disposal fee, and the like and it soon adds up to more than your municipal taxes.

  • concerned
    August 06, 2014 - 07:54

    All cabin owners should band together and take a class action lawsuit against Waste Management, who are they to force there will on all cabin owners. I use my cabin maybe 6-8 times a year, all garbage is take back with us, plus there is no garbage strewn around our cabins. Another wonder full idea bought to us by the PC government, Waste Management and Nalcor, don't question these people, the PC government made them gods responsible only to them selves.

  • hslaw
    August 06, 2014 - 06:01

    For one thing sir you stating about the bus system In Mt. Pearl shows the lack of consideration you have for the people You can choose to use the bus. But you don't Those people can't choose not to pay you. You live in Mt Pearl If you choose to use the bus in St Johns you can. All you have to do is pay each time you use it. ? place a system in your truck y where your driver can tally which house garbage and who don't. Bill for services. My question would be Who gave these people the right to legally add a tax on the cabin owners