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While a lot of municipalities are moving away from residential use of garbage boxes, Cape St. George is doing the opposite and putting in community garbage boxes.
“It’s a novel approach,” said Peter Fenwick, mayor of the small town on the Port au Port Peninsula. And it’s part of a complete remake of the town’s garbage collection program.
Port au Port looks after its own garbage collection. Fenwick said the town has looked into the cost of contracting out the service but financially it makes sense to do it in-house as it provides work for its municipal employees.
But there are still issues, like dealing with maintenance on the truck used to collect waste, safety, scheduling and efficiency.
The community garbage boxes, of which there are currently nine in place, help address all that.
“What it gives us is the ability to schedule our garbage collection much better,” said Fenwick.
If there is a problem with the garbage truck, pick up can be delayed to the next day without the worry that garbage will be left on the side of the road open to the elements and seagulls and crows. The boxes are also larger than personal ones so they can hold more. One box is able to hold the waste of up to six households.
The garbage truck will also only have to go down one side of a road on collection day because all the community garbage boxes will be on the same side. That increases safety as workers don’t have to cross the road.
“And it also speeds up the garbage collection,” Fenwick said, as there’s less stops for workers to make.
The boxes are split to accommodate waste on one side and recycling on the other which will make sorting easier.
Cape St. George received a grant from the province for the project and just received the material to build five more boxes.
"... it gives us is the ability to schedule our garbage collection much better." — Peter Fenwick
Fenwick said the town is really trying to get away from residents having their own garbage boxes.
Some may refuse to use the community boxes, but the town hopes to be able to overcome any opposition to the plan, and Fenwick said those who are in favour see the benefits.
“They understand they don’t have to build their own box and they don’t have to worry about it deteriorating and having to be repaired,” he said.
“I’m hoping another year or two we’ll have virtually the entire community doing it that way.”
Sarah Rowe is one resident of the town who is looking forward to getting a community garbage box near her home on Oceanview Drive.
Rowe and her family have been using a garbage box and it has worked for them. Still, she is wary at times of rodents and other pests and will regularly check it in the summer and spray it with pest repellant or put lime or potato dust at the bottom.
When she heard the town wanted to get away from residents having their own boxes and go with community garbage boxes she thought it was a great idea. And she can see all the points that Fenwick has made about safety and efficiency.
“I also think it beautifies our community, in one sense, as all of the garbage boxes look the same.”
A bonus is that it’s maintenance free on the residents’ part and will cost them nothing.
She wasn’t sure though if others would want to participate as people don’t always like change.
“However, I’m all for change if it benefits our town. I think it’s a great program.”
So, she contacted the town clerk to say she was interested in having one near her home. She said seeing it could help get others interested.
“Once people see how it’s working and hopefully once they see that more people are availing of getting these boxes that more people will embark in getting one as well.”
She’s not sure where the box will go but feels it could be centralized in a way that she won’t have to walk that far to access it. “A few extra steps maybe.”