Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment Graham Letto directed the Eastern Regional Service Board (ERSB) on Friday to cease the collection of waste on unserviced roads as soon as possible.
The direction comes after a lengthy public debate between cabin owners and the board. Cabin owners have argued the service is subpar, not needed and shouldn’t come with the same fee as homes that get weekly garbage pickups, as opposed to several times per year in some cabin owners’ cases.
The ERSB has maintained everyone should pay their fair share for services – $180 per property regardless of whether it’s a primary residence or a cabin.
In a news release issued Friday afternoon, Letto also directed the ERSB to limit outstanding fees and interest charged to individuals on their first invoice to a two-year period, and improve the board’s transparency, accountability and engagement.
In a letter from Letto to board chair Ed Grant, Letto wrote that includes ensuring thorough consultations are completed in advance of setting an annual budget and fees, or expanding service areas.
Once the ongoing review of the Provincial Waste Management Strategy is complete, direction may be provided to the board on other issues, Letto said.
Grant could not be reached for comment.
Letto’s announcement was well received by cabin owner Joe Howell.
Howell called it “a great first step,” but said the issue should never have reached a point where Letto had to give such a direction to the board.
“If the Eastern Regional Service Board had to be reasonable with cabin owners, I don’t think it would have had to come to this at all,” he said.
In a letter to Grant, Letto wrote that the government “firmly believes” fees should only be charged and collected where a service can reasonably be provided.
In terms of ceasing waste collection on unserviced roads or areas where collection services cannot be reasonably provided on a regular basis, Letto wrote that the board has some idea of the areas to which that direction would apply.
Letto also wrote this change should not result in increased costs to other people in the region.
He said an update from the board on plans to discontinue collection on unserviced roads should be given to the government by Feb. 20.