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Northern Peninsula towns frustrated with garbage collection policies

Garbage bags beside a bin. Stephen Roberts/The Northern Pen photo
Garbage bags beside a bin. Stephen Roberts/The Northern Pen photo

NORTHERN PENINSULA, NL – Frustration with garbage collectors is growing in a number of Northern Peninsula towns.

According to mayors in Anchor Point, Flower’s Cove and Roddickton-Bide Arm, NORPEN Waste Management’s subcontractor, who picks up the garbage, is enforcing policies inconsistently, creating confusion and frustration amongst residents.

Most particularly, the trouble is a policy dictating that garbage any further than 10 feet from the road won’t be picked up.

The mayors say the collectors have only started to enforce the policy in the last few weeks.

“For years, they were picking up the garbage and now, all of a sudden, we’re too far off the road,” said Anchor Point mayor Gerry Gros.

Gros, himself, has experienced the issue firsthand.

He says he recently went three or four weeks without having his garbage picked up.

According to Roddickton-Bide Arm mayor Sheila Fitzgerald, they’ve been told the entire bin needs to be within the 10 feet boundary.

Fitzgerald, Gros and Flower’s Cove mayor Keith Billard each agree this could become a major issue in the wintertime during snow removal.

If the bins are placed within the 10 feet, they may very well be in the paths of snowploughs clearing the roads.

However, Gros and Fitzgerald say residents have been told they don’t have to put their garbage bin within the 10 feet perimeter, but just the garbage itself.

Gros believes that would be a good idea if they knew exactly when the collectors were going to be there to pick up the garbage.

“If you put the garbage out there and they don’t show up for a couple hours, you’ll be picking garbage all over Anchor Point when the gulls get at it,” he said.

Gros and Fitzgerald believe the public should have been notified that the regulation was going to be enforced more stringently. And both say it needs to be enforced more consistently.

For example, in Roddickton, Fitzgerald explains some weeks the bags were taken and some weeks they weren’t.

In certain cases, tags were left on the bags but residents weren’t provided an explanation why the bags weren’t collected.

“Most people worked really hard to try to comply, but with so much inconsistency, and when garbage piles up over three or four weeks, people become very agitated,” said Fitzgerald.

Residents soon began to take to social media to complain and the Town of Roddickton-Bide Arm held a meeting to discuss and address the issue on Oct. 10.

However, contrary to a VOCM report, both the local RCMP and mayor Fitzgerald have told the Northern Pen that police did not escort garbage collectors in Roddickton earlier this month.

“The media agitated the situation and made it worse for us,” said Fitzgerald.

According to her, the town has also never contacted the RCMP on the matter.

She also doesn’t know of any cases where residents threw their garbage in ditches.

The situation worsened on Wednesday, Oct. 11, when collectors didn’t show up that morning to pick up the garbage.

Fitzgerald says they were left to find alternative means to dispense of residents’ waste collection that week.

After subsequent discussions with NORPEN, she believes the collectors will be picking up bags again on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Gros also hopes the situation has resolved, noting his garbage was picked up on the most recent garbage day when he spoke with the Northern Pen.

But he says they’ll wait and see how things go over the next couple weeks.

If the collector leaves garbage again, there’s sure to be more frustration.

Flower’s Cove mayor Keith Billard believes a part of the problem starts with NORPEN employing a subcontractor to pick up the garbage.

He doesn’t believe services like this should be privatized.

“When you privatize stuff, that company is out to make a dollar,” said Billard. “And so they’re going to cut corners and not give you the service that really we need.”

He says they’re also collecting it in an open truck and sometimes they don’t have a net over it.

Therefore, sometimes the waste will blow onto the roads.

The Northern Pen reached out to NORPEN Waste Management Authority for a comment but did not receive a reply prior to deadline.

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca

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