Erin councillor and mayoral candidates are in agreement that the town needs to take a hard stance in dealing with unregulated fill being brought into the municipality.
Anna Spiteri posed the following questions to municipal candidates at a meeting in Ballinafad on Oct. 2.
With fill dumping being an increasing issue in the Town of Erin and municipal government being responsible for fill, what is your position on unregulated fill coming into the town and how do you propose enforcement of the site alteration bylaw?
Candidates were also questioned whether they would support Erin’s ad hoc committee recommendations currently before council.
Candidate Allan Alls said the simple answer is “yes”.
Alls pointed to his own experience walking over property where fill was dumped.
“It has literally destroyed a farm. It’s unbelievable how much damage that does.”
He considered the bylaws as being very poorly enforced in Erin at this stage in the game.
“We need a strong bylaw and we need it to be enforced.”
Candidate Matt Sammut agreed.
“We absolutely need regulations. The reality is that fill is an issue for us. We have a lot of trucks coming into the community which are destroying roads.”
There is also the matter of potentially contaminated fill which could affect the entire community and could incur monstrous costs to the ecosystem.
“We have to stop it before it becomes a very serious problem,” said Sammut, adding this is also a lifestyle issue.
“We absolutely need a bylaw officer for this and need to collect a portion of the revenues collected by the person receiving the fill.” At the same time, he suggested if the fill is properly regulated and monitored, “it is fair.”
“We have to make sure we get enough money to repair our roads.”
Right now the costs are being incurred by residents, Sammut said.
Candidate Evelyn McLean said she was glad to have the chance to speak on the issue.
As a rural resident, she too has experienced what others have had to deal with on the rural roads.
“Today, one of (the haulers) drove me off the road.”
McLean said the town should get a portion of the money paid to the landowner and that truckers should pay to be allowed to come into Erin with their truckloads of fill.
“The roads are in terrible shape and I would like to see a bylaw with teeth.”
Candidate Christopher Naraysingh added, “I guess we’re all unanimous on this.”
He said there should be a penalty for any truck coming in with fill illegally.
“It changes the landscape dramatically and you don’t know what is coming in with the fill.”
He too agreed that money must be collected from the trucks coming in.
If the haulers violate the regulations “hit them with a hefty fine.” He suggested once haulers are hit with a $10,000 fine “word will get around and they’ll stop coming in trying to dump fill.”
*Not all candidates were offered a chance to speak to every question at the Oct. 2 Ballinafad meeting.