Tipping point: Deputy mayor says tipping fees too high in Grand Falls-Windsor

Grand Falls-Windsor wants immediate action from government to curb the cost of garbage disposal.
Central Newfoundland's new waste management facility in Norris Arm can sort through 15,000 tonnes of garbage every year, but is handling a fraction of that. (CBC)

The growing cost of garbage disposal in Grand Falls-Windsor has become unsustainable, says the town's deputy mayor.

In an interview with the Central Morning Show, Darren Finn explained that tipping fees are now $136 per tonne, an expense that drains the town coffers of $571,000 a year.

"You can easily say that we're supporters of the environment," Finn said. "And we would advocate for being good stewards, but at what cost?" 

Deputy Mayor Darren Finn said the town's annual garbage disposal expense has grown from $223,000 in 2001 to $571,000 in 2016. (CBC)

Finn explained that Central Newfoundland pays more than double neighbouring regions. The tipping fee in the east is $67 a tonne, and the west pays $59 a tonne. 

He said the problem is that the $22-million waste management facility in Norris Arm has not been utilized as promised. It is supposed to serve both central and western regions, but as of November the financial burden of running and maintaining the building is being carried by central alone.

Underfed facility

"We have a huge system developed just in the central region at the moment that I would say is designed for a population four or five times the size of what feeds into it," Finn said.

He said the facility is underfed and only spends one week a month processing material.

Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce said the fixed costs of the Norris Arm facility will be shared once the new transfer sites in the western region are operational and start shipping garbage out sometime in the next year or two.

Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce said the financial burden will be lifted off Grand Falls-Windsor once the transfer sites in western Newfoundland are operational. (CBC)

"I understand their frustration. I understand increased cost. I understand what the business is going through," Joyce said. "I have to find some way to speed up Western Newfoundland with their waste management strategy to help mitigate the fixed costs for Central Newfoundland."

Help needed now

But Finn stressed the need for more immediate action. 

He wants to freeze the upcoming composting program, which would further increase fees. 

He also wants government to subsidize garbage disposal expenses in Grand Falls-Windsor or allow the town to landfill waste until costs become more manageable.

Joyce said burying garbage goes against the 2002 Waste Management Strategy, a plan he says may need updating.

"To see if there's any new technology, see if there's any new way that we can improve this waste management strategy for the province, and see if there's any way to help mitigate the cost." 

With files from Central Morning Show