Loss of garbage collection is 'environmental discrimination,' says Brigus Junction resident

Paul Dawe says he's had a few sleepless nights since learning his garbage won't be picked up in the new year.

Dawe has lived on an unserviced side road in Brigus Junction, N.L., for 15 years, and as of January he will have to figure out a way to get all his household trash to a landfill himself. 

"It's environmental discrimination, in my mind, because of where I live."

The provincial government agreed to let cabin owners in unincorporated areas opt out of the $180 annual fee for garbage collection earlier this year, so the Eastern Regional Service Board, which assumed responsibility for waste management in eastern Newfoundland in 2009, decided to discontinue the service altogether.

The board said the plan was not practical, and cited concerns about job losses, improper waste disposal and reduced revenue. 

Only people who live on a paved stretch of road through the area will continue to have their trash picked up.

Dawe said that means about a dozen year-round residents in his area of Junction Park — one the several small communities that make up Brigus Junction — are being left in the lurch.

 It's three dollars and 47 cents a week. I spent more on my coffee this morning. - Paul Dawe

He understands why people who can't access their cabins in the winter don't want to pay for year-round service, but Dawe said the fees for cabin owners could have been reduced rather than allowing them to opt out of garbage collection altogether.

"I think that the provincial government and Eastern Service Board made a mistake. They should have put something in place like a staggered system — maybe from May 24th to Labour Day it's $50 for the summer," he told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Dawe said when he moved to Junction Park 15 years ago, residents paid a private contractor to collect garbage, but they were forced to cancel the service after the Eastern Service Board took over waste management and started charging for garbage collection.

"We don't expect to have a service provided to us for nothing … but I never thought in a hundred years that we would lose the garbage collection that they put in place. It's three dollars and 47 cents a week. I spent more on my coffee this morning." 

Chantal Bernard/CBC

Dawe is now looking into private garbage pickup, but he's worried it won't be cost-effective for contractors to make the trip. 

He said he would like to approach the current company or contractor providing the service to see if homeowners on side roads could pay them directly to pick up their trash while they're in the area anyway, but said he can't get any information from the provincial government.

"I've had a lot of roadblocks thrown up and I think that we're going to have to start making our voices heard that we do want this service. We appreciate the service and it's important because this garbage is going to end up on the highways, on the byways and in the woods." 

CBC has asked the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment for comment on Monday, but have yet to receive a response.

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