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LETTER: Garbage collection should be fair for all

A 2018 photo (left) of a sign near Western Bay Line installed in February after cabin owners met with government officials, and ERSB on Jan. 28, 2018. (Centre photo) A Jan 1, 2019 photo showing garbage left at the drop off point. (Right photo) On Jan. 14 this photo was taken showing a newly installed garbage bin at the site. — Photos courtesy Joe Howell
A 2018 photo (left) of a sign near Western Bay Line installed in February after cabin owners met with government officials, and ERSB on Jan. 28, 2018. (Centre photo) A Jan 1, 2019 photo showing garbage left at the drop off point. (Right photo) On Jan. 14 this photo was taken showing a newly installed garbage bin at the site. — Photos courtesy Joe Howell - Contributed

This letter in is response to a letter to the editor in the Jan. 12 edition of The Telegram by Ed Grant, Chairperson of the Easter Regional Service Board (ERSB).

We are forced to go to court, because cabin owners are treated unfairly, and intimidated with high interest charges or even get turned over to collection agencies, for a service nobody asked for, nobody wanted, is not needed, and for most cabin owners the ERSB can only supply part of the year.

My area has approx. 90 cabins. We are on a non-service road, pay our own committee to get road maintenance done each spring so we can use the road, and we only have access from mid-May to November/December. There are lots of cabin areas on the Avalon who have the same problem. Mr. Grant wants to give the impression that this is generally, factually incorrect.

I would pay my fair share if I had the same level of service as people who live in the communities and get weekly garbage collection 12 months a year.

ERSB states on their website that the $180 fee is for weekly curbside collection. People in communities get road maintenance, snow clearing, and have access to garbage collection year around. This same level of service can’t be supplied to cabin owners.

Grant asked why should people living in communities subsidize cabin owners? Cabin owners pay the same fee as people living in the communities, but most of us get only 6 month’s garbage service a year, we have to pay for maintenance on our own roads, and no snow clearing/no access in the winter. Facts is we are subsidizing rural communities.

ERSB talks about protecting the environment. Yet, in Western Bay Line, we go to cabins normally on Fridays, and back on Sundays. Garbage collection is on Thursday. We must leave garbage out for four days before it is picked up. This attracts wildlife, birds, rodents, & insects.

Even though we don’t have access in the wintertime, they put a sign at the end of Western Bay Line, for winter drop off between Jan 1 and March 1. Again, if garbage trucks can’t get in on Western Bay Line to collect garbage, how do they expect people to get in to their cabins. Even if they could, ERSB expects people to dump garbage on the ground in the wintertime four days before pickup, only to be torn apart by dogs, birds, wildlife, frozen into the ground, or completely buried in a snow storm. (See the accompanying photos).

I complained about this over the last three years. This was the first year they put on garbage container there. Again, no access from December to mid-May therefore no service. This is nothing short of a money grab.

Grant talks about a cabin, 45 minutes from St. John’s, with jacuzzi, internet, access year around, pays no property tax, complain about waste collection fee. That’s fine, let ERSB go after those people. But, don’t mislead the public to think all cabins have this luxury. The majority cabin owners are like me, who have cabins on non-service roads, no government assistance for road maintenance, no snow clearing, and no access for five or six months a year.

If Grants talks about everyone should pay their fair share, then fair share should mean the same service, which includes road maintenance, snow clearing, and weekly curbside year-round garbage collection for the same $180 a year.

Now, that sounds fair to me.

ERSB has all cabin owners lumped in the same class of service as full time and seasonal people living in communities, who get year-round service. ERSB, who has 10 members on the St. John’s council, needs to spend more time in the communities and cabin areas, to see who has access all year-round and who has permanent residency in those cabin areas.

Grant talks about properties generating waste. This is true, and people living in communities, with services all year around, should pay. Most cabin owners use their cabins a few weekends a year and generate about have a Sobey’s bag of garbage on weekends. They take this home with them and dispose of it in their regular garbage, where they already pay for garbage disposal.

This is not extra garbage. It would be the same if we stayed home on weekends.

Joe Howell

St. John’s

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