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LETTER: Eastern Waste model is poorly conceived

As a permanent, full-time resident in cottage country, I am happy to pay my share of all user fees associated with my rural lifestyle, including summer road maintenance and winter snow-clearing.

I received my annual garbage collection invoice from Eastern Waste Management Committee in today’s mail and will send my payment promptly, along with this letter explaining why I feel the tax is being unfairly applied.

The Eastern Regional Services Board (which oversees the Eastern Waste Management Committee) has arbitrarily decided that everybody pays the full rate on the basis that it is “unfair” to those who pay while non-users opt out of the service. They unequivocally state this (without providing supportive discourse) in their website.

It is interesting to note that at least one cottager association in Ontario reached the exact opposite conclusion, that being that it would be unfair to add a garbage fee to the regional governance tax for those who rarely if ever avail of garbage collection.

Clearly those living as full residents in unincorporated areas should be expected to pay the full fee. But I feel that any cottager currently paying a garbage collection fee in their primary municipality should be able to apply for an exemption.

Many of these cottagers only use their cottage for a few long weekends per summer. I strongly believe it is unfair to impose a garbage collection fee on such individuals, and I resent the draconian approach that Eastern Waste is applying in their current modus operandi. They state that if seasonal users were exempted, an additional fee of $15 per annum would be added to the cost for those who use the service. Please invoice me for that additional $15: I find this to be infinitely more fair than charging someone for something they don’t use or didn’t sign up for in the first place.

As a recent past executive of the cottager group for the enclave in which I reside, I also have concerns for the loss of road maintenance and snow-clearing fees resulting from your mandatory garbage fee. Our volunteer fees are essential toward ensuring a safe and reliable road link in the event of fire or emergency. However, there is always a segment of the local residency who resent such fees. Now that you have imposed a mandatory fee on them, they are increasingly inclined to “rob Peter” (our committee) to “pay Paul” (Eastern Waste).

In the actual matter of garbage and recyclables collection, did Eastern Waste even do an initial “market survey” to determine what volumes they were dealing with? In our household we only produce one bag of non-redeemable recyclables monthly and one bag of domestic trash bi-weekly. A once a fortnight collection is more than satisfactory to the needs of this household, and I expect is equally adequate for most others in cottage country. The board could cut its operating cost in half by adopting such a reduced schedule.

I am further outraged of the matter of applying interest to past year’s arrears of those not previously invoiced by the agency, such as in the recently publicized matter concerning Derek Winsor. The word predatory has been ascribed by others to this practice, and I whole-heartedly agree. By the board’s estimation, it has an 80 per cent compliance rate with the garbage fee.

I would suggest that the compliance rate is more likely near 20 per cent. Based on this, and the agency’s callous and bullish approach, I anticipate seeing many additional media episodes such as that involving Mr. Winsor.

In summary, the Eastern Waste model is a poorly conceived, poorly unveiled and ineffectively administrated program and is in need of a major overhaul. There are many effective working models throughout Canada to consider. There is no wheel inventing required, just thorough research of what works elsewhere in similar circumstances.

Any politician seeking to garner my vote in the next provincial election should be prepared to enlighten me on how their party proposes to address this fiasco before I will ever consider supporting them.

Mac Pitcher

Brigus Junction

Related letter:

LETTER: Is it really about the bag of garbage at the Cabin?

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