Thursday, May 9, 2013

Garbage In - Garbage Out: Head in the sand politics at Council

In this week’s Council Meeting the issue of waste management came up yet again when it was revealed that the conversion of Clarenville’s dump to a “Transfer Station” is coming quickly – possibly within two months. 

By way of background, about 6 years ago the Province decided that it would reduce the number of dumps in NL.  All garbage from Clarenville east would be shipped to Robin Hood Bay in St. John’s.  A “Transfer Station” was to be established in Clarenville to act as a central collection point. Essentially, our Town’s dump would be converted from a “final resting place” to a temporary holding place.

Shipping heavy garbage is expensive and you, the taxpayer, are the one who will pay for it. The transfer station means that your taxes will go up to cover this costs of shipping – by about 10% or $180 a year – depending on the amount of garbage shipped.

To minimize costs to taxpayers, Government has encouraged municipalities to separate garbage into recyclables, compostables, building waste, and whatever garbage was left.  Ideally only the garbage that was left would be sent to the so-called Super-dump in Robin Hood bay.

No plans exits in Clarenville

The ensuing Council discussion that came from Tuesday’s revelation clearly demonstrates that Council has adopted a "head in the sand" approach to this topic.  For the past number of years municipalities were encouraged to develop and implement a waste diversion strategy to separate garbage and thereby reduce their shipping costs. Clearly Clarenville has not done that nor has it developed any plan to do that.   

The more we ship to St. John's the more it will cost us. Based on our current practices, that cost will likely be high.  

This situation is yet another example of the need for better planning capacity within our growing town.  The costs of NOT planning may not show up on the Town's financial statements but the ramifications and costs are all too visible. 

In politics, timing is everything

Note that if this planned schedule holds true, it will be just in time for September's municipal elections.  It’s unlikely that you will have anyone to blame for your new tax bill and it's equally unlikely that there will be a plan to minimize it.  


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