Nfld. & Labrador

Milltown fire chief wants to change the way Coast of Bays deals with garbage

It's time to change the way trash is disposed of, Dion Roberts says, and he has some ideas about where to start.

Dump fires are a regular occurrence, Dion Roberts says, and they're harming the environment

Dion Roberts says he posted photos of garbage dumps around the Coast of Bays in hopes of inspiring change in how waste is dealt with where he lives. (Facebook/Dion Roberts)

Milltown's fire chief hopes photos of the local dump that he posted on Facebook will light a fire under the Coast of Bays community — and not under its trash.

Dion Roberts was called to a dump fire last week, one of many in the area that he's responded to over the past few years. He was disheartened to see trash being burned, including items that could have been recycled or disposed of more safely.

"I've been 47 years on the planet and I'm seeing our landfills being dealt with the very same way as when I was five or six years old," Roberts said. 

"We are now in 2019, we are faced with global warming, we are faced with the oceans becoming acidic."

He took some photos and video of the dump's trash — which included items like appliances, metal, tires, recyclable bottles, and compostable materials — and posted them on Facebook with a call to action. Now he's formed a committee to help change the way garbage is dealt with in Milltown and in other Coast of Bays communities.


"Sometimes if you want to be heard you've just got to shout loud enough, right?," he said.

"And I shouted loud, and so far it's spawning some positivity."

Not an isolated problem

Milltown ended up being singled out by his online posts, Roberts said, because he's that town's fire chief, but the issue is not isolated.

The situation is similar, if not worse, in other dumps in the area, and two dumps were actively burning when he drove down the coast a few days ago, he said. One of those fires was surrounded on one side by the ocean, and on the other by the town's reservoir, he said, with smoke and plastic bags from the dump blowing into the town water.

In an effort to change things in Coast of Bays, Roberts has started a committee of local residents who share his concerns. One of their first efforts will be to bring in clothing donation bins, he said, and to arrange for the proper distribution for any items donated. The Milltown town hall has a bin for paint disposal, and he wants to make people more aware of that option as well.


Also, Milltown Mayor Georgina Ball told CBC News the town hopes to meet with Roberts about his plans for an area cleanup.

Growing that awareness is key to getting people on board and changing the situation in Coast of Bays, as well as the biggest challenge, Roberts said.

He hopes that by making people aware of the ways that garbage disposal affects them, he can convince them to get involved and change their own habits. 

"We all have this problem," he said. "We're all responsible for this problem down here."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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