The monkey is off the backs of minister Derrick Bragg (Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment) and Eastern Regional Services Board (ERSB) chairman Harold Mullowney — they are discontinuing the collection of garbage in cabin/cottage areas.
According to board minutes, the ERSB demanded that the minister give them a directive, and he did, shutting down the service effective Dec. 31, 2019.
The ranting about unfairness on “Open Line” and in social media was too much for them. Mullowney took it from there. He issued an expression of interest to property owners in the affected areas, which was an opt-in if 70 per cent of property owners in an area indicated “yes” to continuing the service.
The letter postmarked Oct. 18, had to be responded to by Oct. 31, 2019, providing people roughly a week to respond.
The letter stated that the service was extended to unserviced roads in unincorporated areas in July 2016.
My service was implemented on July 7, 2014. My first invoice arrived Sept. 12, 2014. This was, in fact, five and a half years ago, not three years.
I contend that ERSB wanted to downplay the length of time that the service was in effect. Referring to all roads in unincorporated areas as unserviced is more spin.
Many areas have road committees. In my area, Belbin’s Mill Pond road property owners pay $600 a year for road maintenance. After five and a half years of service, and an opt-in offer from ERSB referring to these roads as “unserviced” is just more spin.
The results of the expression of interest, as expected, slanted towards “no.”
In my opinion, in order to make the “yes” group look as small as possible, ERSB’s numbers showed the yes group as a percentage of the total ballots mailed out (14 per cent), and to exaggerate the “no” group, they added the total number of unreturned ballots — result: 86 per cent.
The real results are more like 23 per cent yes, and 77 per cent no.
I know full-time residents who would have voted yes had they not been travelling during the one-week vote period.
ERSB is self-funding, user-pay, and they would not have the necessary critical mass to pay for operations if only a few areas opted in. They like to say they are not for profit, but their emergency reserve war chest suggests otherwise. The balances are not shown in their financials.
In trying to research this and looking and asking ERSB for statistics, I get the feeling that the decision to cancel was made with a “damn-the-cannons” attitude and with no regard for the fallout.
They don’t know how many full-time residents live in the areas where service was cancelled, and don’t know where their garbage will go.
For me, the two drop-off areas are St. Joseph’s, a 74-kilometre round trip, and Robin Hood Bay, a more than 100-km round trip, multiplied by 40 or 50 trips a year.
Dream on, minister.
A typical family of two has two bags of garbage a week, more when visitors are present; a family of four or five, considerably more. Recyclables: two bags every two weeks.
Three hundred and sixty-six respondents to the survey said yes to continuing the service. Some of those were weekenders who don’t want stinky garbage in the back of their SUVs.
So, for the purpose of sizing up the problem, let’s assume there are 300 full-time residential families in the affected area:
• 150 (two-person) x three bags of garbage x 48 weeks = 21,600 bags per year.
• 150 (family of four) x five bags of garbage x 48 weeks = 36,000 (conservatively) bags a year.
Plus bulk garbage, with no reasonable or planned destination.
It is far from comforting to know that ERSB has the legislated mandate to take care of it.