Nova Scotia

CBRM to reopen landfill site after garbage collectors overwhelmed

Cape Breton Regional Municipality's landfill site has been closed to the public during the pandemic, but it is reopening next week because garbage collectors have been dealing with a huge increase in trash left at the curb.

Solid waste manager says keeping public from the dump has led to huge increase in trash at curb

Cape Breton Regional Municipality's landfill site has been open only to commercial traffic during the pandemic, but it will reopen to the public starting next week. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Cape Breton Regional Municipality's landfill site has been closed to the public under the state of emergency, but residents will be able to go back to the dump next week.

CBRM closed the landfill on Sydney Port Access Road and its recycling facility in Sydport Industrial Park last month over concerns about COVID-19.

To compensate, the municipality removed the limit on the number of garbage bags allowed at the curb.

Francis Campbell, the municipality's manager of solid waste, told council earlier this week that garbage collectors have been overwhelmed and it is time to reopen the dump to the public starting this Tuesday.

"Our collectors would normally pick [up] four tonnes and that would be it for the day," he said.

"They would fill up the vehicle once during the day and they'd be done. Last Friday, one of our collectors picked up 10 tonnes of material. He had to empty out twice and go back for the third time."

Some councillors expressed concern that residents might flock to the dump, creating safety problems for themselves and municipal staff.

CBRM solid waste manager Francis Campbell says the issue is a tradeoff between keeping people home and continuing to allow residents to put out an unlimited number of trash bags. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Campbell said the number of vehicles allowed into the dump will be controlled to allow residents and staff to keep a safe distance.

Some councillors worried that would lead to a traffic jam on SPAR Road, but Campbell said staff have controlled access in the past and that police can help with traffic, if needed.

He said the issue comes down to a trade-off between keeping people home and continuing an unsustainable practice with residents allowed to put out an unlimited number of trash bags.

"We saw a big increase in the amount of material out at the curb ... so what's the lesser of the two, you know, whether we take extra bags at the curb or do we open the facility?" Campbell said.

With the reopening of the dump, the five-bag limit at the curb will be reinstated. Up to two can be black bags.

Meanwhile, the spring heavy garbage pickup in CBRM remains on hold until after the state of emergency is lifted.

Council has instructed Campbell to gather information for next month's council meeting on the possibility of having a contractor in place to haul heavy residential garbage by appointment only, under what is referred to as a call-to-haul program.

Heavy garbage pickup, as seen in this file photo, is on hold in CBRM, Victoria and Inverness counties, but Port Hawkesbury and Richmond County have plans to go ahead with their programs. (CBC)

Elsewhere on Cape Breton Island, Victoria and Inverness counties have also postponed heavy garbage pickup, but Port Hawkesbury and Richmond County are proceeding with theirs starting in May.

In Port Hawkesbury, the town says rummaging and salvaging are discouraged. The town does not have a landfill site, and it has not yet decided whether to open its site for leaf and yard waste in May as it usually does.

The Richmond County landfill site remains open to the public, but Victoria County's sites are closed to the public.

In Inverness, there is no public dump. The construction and demolition site is open to contractors and businesses, but temporarily closed to the public due to the need for physical distancing. The county said it does hold an annual fall heavy garbage pickup.

About the Author

Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at


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