Cabin owners and residents in the Peak Pond and Reids Pond area were more relaxed, and in some cases celebrated, as word of an Eastern Waste Management decision reached them over the weekend.
The waste management authority pulled its proposal for a waste transfer facility about 8 1/2 kilometres along the Trans-Canada Highway from Whitbourne, not far from Peak Pond.
The proposal was in the middle of environmental assessment and the latest decision has effectively killed the site development, unless the waste management authority files a new proposal at a later date. An environmental review would still be required.
“We’re glad that they did (pull the project),” said Jamie Neville, a cabin owner who first heard about the plan for the facility by word of mouth. “Everybody’s pretty relieved in the area.”
If cleared, the facility would have handled bulk-garbage dropoffs, as opposed to daily household garbage. It would be the ninth and final such facility established by Eastern Waste Management for meeting the goals of the province’s waste management strategy.
There were a few extras included for the waste management authority at the site near Peak Pond, including the addition of a small vehicle depot and the possibility of a composting test facility.
The Telegram contacted Eastern Waste Management Wednesday about its decision and was told board chair Ed Grant was not available for comment, although he may follow up in the days to come.
Regardless of the reasoning, property owners who had concerns about the facility “breathed a sigh of relief,” said cabin owner Lex Hudson.
“As you can appreciate, we have all invested time, money and energy into our properties in the area and would hate to have seen such a pristine location be used for such a facility,” he stated in an email.
Hudson said he believes public opposition to the project played a part in Eastern Waste Management’s decision not to push it forward.
“There was a concerted effort to make sure this was kept to the forefront and the pressure was on,” said Liberal MHA Paul Lane, who shared Hudson’s belief.
Lane was part of the opposition to the project as it was proposed. His letter to the editor, headlined “Find a better location,” was published in The Telegram May 24. Citing constituents with properties in the Peak Pond and Reids Pond area, he also raised the topic on radio call-in shows and presented petitions against the project in the House of Assembly, speaking at least seven times there on the topic.
Liberal MHA Tom Osbourne, who has a cabin near the area, also spoke out against the proposed facility.
Public comments on the proposed waste transfer facility were accepted by the provincial Department of Environment in February and March.
In May, then-Environment minister Joan Shea asked for further information from Eastern Waste Management, in the form of an environmental preview report — more detailed documentation than was required for the original project registration.
According to Lane, work completed by Eastern Waste Management around the proposal, including the cost of the initial registration document, should have come after a clear period of public consultation with property owners in the area.
“I think they should have consulted with the people there to begin with, but the bottom line is that I guess the process worked from the perspective that the public pressure worked,” he said.
The provincial minister responsible for public engagement, Steve Kent, took to Twitter following the Eastern Waste Management decision.
“Thanks to those who expressed their views,” he posted.
Also minister of Municipal Affairs, Kent later responded to questions on the subject, suggesting an as-yet unseen study on composting, commissioned by government, led to the death of the project as it was proposed.
However it chooses to proceed, the provincial government “will continue to work with Eastern Waste Management to undertake planning and infrastructure development for the eastern region that will support the further rollout of the provincial solid waste management strategy,” Kent said.