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Council weighs options surrounding spring cleanup

This file photo from April 2016 shows garbage bags, dirty diapers, cans and plastic dumped on Swivel Point in Sydney Mines, the site of the former Princess Colliery. Each year, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s department of solid waste investigates hundreds of reports of illegal dumping.
This file photo from April 2016 shows garbage bags, dirty diapers, cans and plastic dumped on Swivel Point in Sydney Mines, the site of the former Princess Colliery.

PICTOU – The disposal of bulk items continues to be a concern for county council, but coming up with a solution is an even bigger problem.

Earl Cameron of Pictou County Solid Waste said Tuesday during a property services meeting for the county that its spring cleanup is comparable to others outside the areas.

Last year, the cleanup, which allows rural residents to put out a restricted number of large items at the end of their driveways for collection, received 90 ton of goods.

Residents also used $140,000 worth of landfill vouchers which waves the fee for Pictou County residents wanting to take their own garbage to the Mount William landfill.

He said both programs keep within the Pictou County Solid Waste budget because they don’t require extra equipment or manpower whereas some municipal units hire trucks and crews specifically for spring cleanup.

Councillors said they are still concerned that not enough people are taking advantage of vouchers that are available at the county office or the spring cleanup which in turn leads to illegal dumping.

“Over the years, I truly believe illegal dumping is not a case of the availability of the service. It is a learned behavior,” he said. “We had cleaned up illegal dumps that made no sense. They drove past our site with material that would cost them nothing to get rid of. It is difficult to educate some people.”

He said Pictou County Solid Waste staff can clean up as many as 30 illegal dumps a month, but the range in size from a few garbage bags to piles of construction materials.

MacKenzie said currently the spring cleanup does not accept box spring mattresses, metals, or chairs and sofas, but they can be dropped off at the landfill by the owners themselves for proper disposal. If council opted to include this in the cleanup, it would be at an extra cost of about $300,000.

There are other options as well, he said. White metals such as stoves can be turned into recycling depots for some money in return and Efficiency Nova Scotia will collect fridges and freezers from homeowners. They will pick them up for free, remove the gasses and pay the homeowner $30 for the product.

Warden Robert Parker said one of the major problems is that some people don’t have access to haul larger items to the landfill site on their own.

“If a call did come in, could we hand that work on to a small trucking company?,” he asked, adding this would service people who don’t have any other option.

Coun. Randy Palmer said county needs to decide if it wants to try to combat illegal dumping by paying out more money for its spring cleanup.

“It’s up to council,” he said. “Do we want to spend $300,000? Do we want to add it to our budget? Really it is up to us if we want to add the cost to residents.”

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