Editor's note: the following article was first published in the Feb. 12, 2013 print edition of The Compass.
Officials say progress is being made in efforts to establish waste recovery facilities in Harbour Grace, Cavendish and Whitbourne, meaning area residents may soon have a more convenient way of disposing of bulk waste.
But complications relating to land ownership continue to obstruct the process, though the situation appears to be especially tangly in Whitbourne and Cavendish, where it's looking more likely that land expropriation will be required.
The facilities will be operated by the Eastern Regional Service Board, and complement sites already in operation in Old Perlican, Placentia, St. Joseph's, Bay Bulls, Renews-Cappahayden and Sunnyside.
The sites provide an option for private citizens to - at no cost - dispose of bulk waste such as construction/demolition debris, metals, appliances, car wrecks, furniture, automobile tires, propane tanks and oil tanks (drained and cleaned). Brush and yard waste will also be accepted, and mulched at the site.
Officials say it will be a "significant increase in service" because residents throughout the region have traditionally had to transport bulk waste to a site such as Robin Hood Bay in St. John's, or wait for bulk garbage collection at the municipal level.
Many municipal leaders say the situation has contributed to a worrying increase in illegal dumping throughout the region.
"From our point of view, this should help reduce or alleviate the problem we have with illegal dumping," said Carbonear Deputy Mayor Ches Ash, who is a member of the Eastern Regional Service Board, and serves as chair of the board's strategy and policy committee.
"It's no more for people to take their bulk waste to this site than it would be to dump it in the woods," he added.
In Harbour Grace, the waste recovery facility will be established at the site of the old incinerator, just off Veterans Memorial Highway. The site is owned by the Town of Harbour Grace, and a now-defunct entity known as the Conception Bay North Incinerator Association.
The association was comprised of eight towns in the region, including Clarke's Beach, Bay Roberts, Spaniard's Bay, Upper Island Cove, Harbour Grace, Carbonear, Victoria and Salmon Cove.
The association never formally divested itself of the site, which has created some "questions of ownership." In light of this, the Eastern Regional Service Board has written all eight communities, asking for their endorsement of the project.
It's known that the Town of Carbonear gave its approval during a public meeting last week, and Bay Roberts passed a similar resolution late last month.
Once this process is complete, the board is expected to move forward with engineering designs. A tender for the establishment of the facility is expected to be called soon, and the site could be in operation by this summer.
The former incinerator building will be dismantled, and a "laydown" area similar to a parking lot will be developed so citizens can drop off their bulk items into separate collection areas.
Claim of ownership
A similar time frame is being contemplated for the waste recovery facility in Cavendish, which will be located on the site of the former landfill.
But there have been some "claims of ownership" on the property, and the Cavendish Local Service District has been granted permission by the Department of Municipal Affairs to proceed with expropriation in order to clarify any title issues to the land.
In Whitbourne, the preferred site is privately owned land near the highways depot, just off the Trans-Canada Highway. However, officials say the property owner refuses to sell the land, and expropriation is being considered.
About a dozen other sites have also been considered, and none have been ruled out completely, officials say.
As such, the process is a little more uncertain in Whitbourne.
If expropriation is necessary, the board will pick up the cost in both cases because the waste site will benefit a larger region.
The Whitbourne site will also serve as a "regional hub" for the waste recovery facilities, and will likely include a depot for accommodating collection vehicles and staff.
It's expected that two staff will be hired to operate the facility in Harbour Grace, and perhaps one in Cavendish. The numbers will likely be higher in Whitbourne, officials say.
Hours of operation will likely follow a pattern established at other sites, which includes Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Officials stress that these facilities are for residential use only, and regular residential or hazardous waste will not be accepted.
Attendants will be on site to ensure that all materials are dumped in the proper location, and that no unacceptable material is permitted.
Ash said it's only fair that residents of this region have convenient access to such a site.
"The residents of St. John's and area have that service available to them, and it's free of cost. So the regional service board, in providing this waste recovery site, is making that same service available to residents of this area.
"I'm certainly pleased to see it coming into existence."