Nfld. & Labrador

Down in the dumps: Corner Brook struggles with illegal trash

Recent reports of illegal trash in Corner Brook have the city wondering what can be done to stop the dumping.
These items were found off a road that leads to Wild Cove Lake. (Jason Foster/Submitted)

It's not a new problem, but people in western Newfoundland are still scratching their heads over the issue of illegal dumping of garbage.

There have been several recent reports of building materials and old tires dumped off woods roads in the region.

Corner Brook city Coun. Tony Buckle told CBC's Corner Brook Morning Show  it's far too common a sight.

"One of the biggest concerns for me is when I'm travelling in the backcountry, maybe 10 and 15 miles in the woods, seeing so much garbage," said Buckle.

"I've seen everything from a deep freeze to a chesterfield to shingles. You name it, it's in the woods."

This pile of shingles were found near Stag lake, which is west of Corner Brook. (Tony Buckle/Submitted)

Trip to the dump will cost you

Some believe one way to curb the illegal dumping is to allow people to drop off garbage at no cost at legitimate landfills.

Right now, residential users of the landfills at St. George's and Wild Cove near Corner Brook have to pay a fee that works out to $59 per metric tonne. For a pickup truckload of garbage, that could cost $10-12.

That's still more than householders pay on the Avalon Peninsula.

There is no fee for residential users who bring waste to the Robin Hood Bay Regional Waste Management Facility in St. John's.

Former west coast resident Rod Lyver, who now lives in Paradise, believes it's a policy the Western Regional Waste Management Authority should adopt.

Everything from a deep freeze to a chesterfield to shingles. You name it, it's in the woods.- Tony Buckle, Corner Brook councillor

"To see that we don't have that system in place on the west coast is quite disappointing. I'm appalled at the amount of garbage now that's being tossed out. However, we could make it easier for some people who don't have the money to pay or are not going to pay."

Free dumping at Robin Hood Bay

St. John's Coun. Danny Breen said illegal dumping is the precise reason there's no charge for residential users at Robin Hood Bay. The city wanted to try to curb people's tendency to dump illegally.

Vehicles are not weighed entering and exiting the landfill to determine how much they're offloading, and there is currently no limit on the number of trips a householder can make to the landfill.

"The reason we are resisting any restriction on that is that we have a problem with illegal dumping, and we don't want to encourage people not to dispose of their waste properly," Breen said.

Fix one problem, create another?

Don Downer of the Western Regional Waste Management Authority said his region didn't always charge homeowners to dump at the landfill.

It's something the authority put in place to address a problem with small businesses trying to pass themselves off as residential users.

"We were getting complaints from some of the commercial collectors, particularly in the Bay St. George area, that people were coming in that were small-time construction-type people and they were coming and dumping — essentially illegally."

Old building supplies can be found at some of these illegal dump sites. (Jason Foster/Submitted)

Instead of using "spotters" as they do at Robin Hood Bay to cut down on abuse, the western authority implemented a fee for all landfill users.

Downer said the authority's board has, in the past, considered dropping the fee for residential users, and he expects it will discuss it again.

"It's possible that we could drop it at some point, or at least reduce it."

Drop-off fee not that expensive

In the meantime, Downer stresses that the fee is fairly minimal.

Tony Buckle agrees.

I'm appalled at the amount of garbage now that's being tossed out. -Rod Lyver, former west coast resident

The councillor said when you consider how much it costs in gasoline alone to bring garbage to some of the places he's found it, it would have been cheaper to just go to the landfill and pay the tipping fee.

Downer and Buckle both say it seems like some people are just going to dump illegally no matter what.

And there's no easy way to overcome that challenge.

About the Author

Bernice Hillier is a host of CBC Newfoundland Morning, which airs weekday mornings across western and central Newfoundland, as well as southern Labrador.

With files from the Corner Brook Morning Show