Cabin owners can’t opt out of garbage scheme

Barb Sweet
Published on August 6, 2014

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.