Bay Roberts changing up its garbage policies

By Mark Squibb/February 10, 2022

Director of Public Work Sean Elms says some residents of Bay Roberts have requested a fall clean up, and while he likes the idea, there are certain precautions the town would need to take.

“Some residents in town don’t have a truck, and they don’t have bulk garbage in the spring, but they have it in September, and they have no way to get rid of it,” said Elms. “In saying that, if we do have a fall cleanup, which we aren’t opposed to, we sort of like it, but it has to come up that there’s no bulk garbage outside of those pick-up times.”

Elms made his remarks during council’s January 25 public meeting. He noted that bulk pickups are expensive, and the Town encourages residents to bring bulk items to the Harbour Grace dump themselves if possible. Elms said if a second bulk pickup is scheduled, the Town will have to be strict in sticking to the schedule.

“We’re trying to get our garbage down, we’re trying to get people directed to Harbour Grace, so if we do offer a second cleanup, or a fall cleanup, we have to have that in place that residents understand that if they put their bulk garbage out (at other times), it’s not going to be picked up,” said Elms. “We also need to make sure that we have a fee structure/fine, (of) I don’t know what, to make sure we can tack these onto people’s taxes… If you’re going to have that second cleanup, we have to make sure we’re not picking up bulk items all the time.”

Elms noted a three-week cleanup is already scheduled for the month of April.

Mayor Walter Yetman asked if there are any tentative dates for the new bulk cleanup.

Elms said not as of yet but suggested early September would be ideal.

Deputy Mayor Geoff Seymour pointed out that the Town schedule has already gone out to residents and while a spring cleanup is scheduled, there is no mention of a fall one.

“But, we could probably add a fall one as sort of a pilot project maybe, and next year, when we put our calendars out, we could specify the exact dates for the two clean ups, one spring, and one fall, with all the conditions laid out, the time frames, and if you put out anything after the fact, we can’t take it, and if we do, you’ll be billed for it,” said Seymour.

“We’ll have a very, very strict schedule that people will have to abide by, and nothing beyond that because this is where the cost comes in, when bulks goes out and you have to go back over and back over and back over,” added Yetman.

Seymour noted that whichever route the town takes, communicating with residents will be key.

Elms added a fee structure for larger garbage pickups, such as for rental properties being cleared out of furniture and other items, needs to be set in stone.

Councilor Perry Bowering argued that if folks do put out bulk items outside the pickup period, the Town should still collect them to prevent them from becoming a hazard to snowplows and the like. But those residents should be fined, he added.

Council gave Elms the go ahead to plan for the fall cleanup.

Clear Bag Mandate Likely Coming

Still on the subject of garbage, Elms said a “clear bag” mandate will likely come into effect.

“Lots of towns are going with clear garbage bags,” said Elms. “We’ve also said that we should start introducing these clear bags as well, ideally starting in January of ’23, which gives us a full year to notify residents that they have to start buying clear bags.”

Recently, the City of St. Johns introduced a clear bag policy. It is supposed to discourage people from tossing their recyclables into garbage bags.

Elms said he understands residents may have concerns with the initiative.

“One of the issues you’ll probably get, and have people talk about, is privacy,” said Elms. “Their concern is people looking at stuff.  And once again, you’re allowed one small, we call it a Shoppers dark bag, to put in these clear bags. But, with privacy concerns, our guys take the bag and throw it in. No one looks through garage. I’ve never seen any of our guys look through garbage yet.”

Elms said clear bags are also a safer, cleaner option for the garbage men, as everything from messy paint cans and broken glass have been thrown into the black bags, which end up in the truck’s compactor and cause trouble.

Councilor Silas Badcock, meanwhile, has already fielded a call from a concerned citizen.

“I had a call from my dear old mom, and at 82 she’s all concerned,” said Badcock. “She said, “Oh my goodness, what am I going to do, I’ve got a backload of black garbage bags bought. Can I still use them?’ So, I said that the next time I was at council I would certainly put the concern out there. What I’m trying to say is, for those folks who have bought in bulk, I’m sure we’ll give them enough time to use their black bags.”

Councilor Franey noted other towns have already implemented the policy, and that as the change likely won’t come into effect until 2023, people have plenty of time to use up their black bags.

He did question why Public Works landed on allowing only a small privacy bag instead of a regular sized privacy bag.

Elms said there is plenty of time yet to lay down the work for how the plan will be implemented and what the rules will be. He added it is important to get the notice out well in advance so residents are fully aware of the coming changes.

Councilor Badcock said he would like to see more folks, himself included, compost regularly.

“There’s barrels and barrels and tons and tons of stuff that we all, including myself, should be composting,” said Badcock.

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