British Columbia

Mayne Island's sole garbage service packing up amid land-use dispute

Trash may soon be piling up on Mayne Island, one of B.C.’s southern Gulf Islands, with the end of the island’s only garbage-disposal service.

The privately-run company has been collecting trash on the small island for years

Mayne Island could see trash pile up, as in this file photo, if a solution isn't found for waste removal services. The only company operating there says it will close. (Jeff Harrington/CBC News)

Trash may soon be piling up on Mayne Island, one of B.C.'s southern Gulf Islands, with the announced end of the island's only garbage-disposal service. 

Mayne Island Garbage Services said this week it will cease operations starting on Jan. 1, 2020 because of a land-use dispute.  

The privately-run company, which has been operating on the island for the past five years, parks its commercial trucks on private land in a residential area — which is against Mayne Island's zoning bylaws. 

"They [the Islands Trust] say we've been running it illegally because of where we park," said Mikael Sauvageau, who runs the company. 

"So, I guess we're going to sell everything."

The island doesn't have any municipal waste removal services. Instead, the roughly 1,000 residents rely on the privately run company to pick up garbage and other items, from fridges to old car parts, for a fee. 

The announcement of the company's closure on Facebook generated dozens of comments, with many expressing concern that trash will ended up being burned or dumped with the lack of a disposal service. 

"We just need to hang tight and not speculate and assume anything at this point," said Raven Mayne, who's been living on the island for two years. 

"As a community and as a village, we're going to just have faith and see what happens."

'A lot of misunderstanding'

On social media, much of the blame has been directed toward the Islands Trust, a federation of local governments that operates under the provincial government to oversee conservation and preservation for islands in southern B.C. 

About a month before announcing the closure, Mayne Island Garbage Services posted on social media that "recently, the Islands Trust has reinitiated efforts to close down our service."

Dan Rogers, chair of the local trust committee for Mayne Island, says it's not a blame-game. 

"There's a lot of misunderstanding about our role and what our intentions are in this matter," Rogers said. 

"We have no motivation to shut down this business."

The trust, which is tasked with land use zoning and planning, received multiple complaints about the bylaw infraction, he said, and were obligated to investigate.

"Once it's decided that it's a valid complaint, we have to do something," he said. 

"We're trying to work with the land owner but so far we've been unsuccessful." 

David Maude, who owns the private land where the garbage company runs its operations, declined to comment. 

He's also a Mayne Island trustee with the Island Trust but wasn't part of any meetings about the issue, according to Rogers. 

"We are trying to resolve things as a community and not in the media," Maude wrote in an email to CBC News. 

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