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City of St. John’s - Clean Up Robin Hood Bay Landfill, Skerries Brook & Sugarloaf Path

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Dear Mayor Breen and members of St. John’s City Council,

I am writing you today to call your attention to a very serious abuse of the environment that is happening at a facility operated by the City of St. John’s. That facility is the Robin Hood Bay Landfill.

Information on the shortcomings of the landfill has been available since at least 2005, when a report was released by the St. John’s Harbour ACAP titled “An Investigation of Contaminant Loadings from the Robin Hood Bay Sanitary Landfill”. However, that report also cites previous studies of the landfill by Kavanagh & Associates from the year 2000, meaning these issues are not new by any means. It also means that these issues have been ongoing for 20 years or more. The time has come to address them in a meaningful way.

To help raise awareness of the problems at Robin Hood Bay Landfill, and to ensure no important facts are overlooked, the following website has been created which I would like for you to take a look at. It can be found at https://sugarloafpath.wordpress.com 

This website contains detailed written descriptions and photos of the pollution flowing out of the landfill through Skerries Brook and into the Atlantic Ocean via Bobbies Cove. The website also contains a list of nine recommendations that I feel the City of St. John’s should take into consideration with regards to the pollution in Skerries Brook and the operation of the landfill in general.

This type of shameful mismanagement of our environment, waste, and natural resources cannot continue. We depend on the ocean for our livelihoods, for our leisure, and for our food. We need to respect our environment rather than abuse it.

As the operator of Robin Hood Bay Landfill the City needs to ensure that they are acting responsibly towards our environment and providing the service in a manner consistent with the expectations people have in 2019 when it comes to pollution and marine waste. To do otherwise is a disservice not only to the environment, but also to the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador and the the rest of the world. Once waste enters the ocean it can end up in far away places. The Atlantic Ocean does not belong to the City of St. John’s. The City of St. John’s shouldn’t be using it this way.

We are asking that you please take the following steps to bring Robin Hood Bay Landfill into compliance with the appropriate standards:

  • Current operational practices to reduce dispersion of wind blown debris are inadequate. To minimize this problem, further attention to daily waste cover and periodic clean-ups must be revisited and improved to address the current shortcoming.
  • Plastic and other visible garbage should be removed from Skerries Brook as soon as possible to prevent it from entering the marine environment. Regular clean-ups of Skerries Brook should continue until such time that plastic and other garbage can be prevented from entering the stream at the source.
  • Waste handling practices should be modernized at the landfill and be included in future operating permits. Alternative and creative mitigation measures must be implemented where the site cannot meet guidelines.
  • An environmental assessment should be conducted to determine the impacts Robin Hood Bay Landfill has had on Skerries Brook, Bobbies Cove, and the marine environment adjacent to the mouth of the stream. A remediation plan should be developed to address issues found during the assessment.
  • Leachate entering Skerries Brook and the marine environment could be toxic to aquatic species. The City of St. John’s needs to be proactive and diligent in mitigating the impact of this discharge.
  • The City of St. John’s should consider the leachate management recommendations of the Kavanagh and Associates report (2000) and the Gartner Lee report (2004) that do not involve using the nearby marsh as part of the leachate remediation process.
  • The City of St. John’s should ensure the operation of Robin Hood Bay Landfill complies with the Environmental Protection Act, related legislation, and operating permit conditions.
  • The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should monitor conditions and ensure that Robin Hood Bay Landfill is operating in compliance with the Environmental Protection Act and operating permits.
  • The City of St. John’s needs to take a more proactive role in managing waste at the Robin Hood Bay site, engaging input from stakeholders such as residential and commercial property owners, waste haulers and recyclers, the East Coast Trail Association, Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program (NAACAP), and the Multi Material Stewardship Board.

As elected representatives of our city it’s your duty to ensure municipal services are operated in compliance with the law.

I am signing this petition today with the hope that public pressure will cause the City to bring the landfill into compliance with applicable legislation and acceptable standards.

A copy of this petition will also be sent to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, and the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment.

Friends of Sugarloaf Path