Debris debate: What should happen with Fiona’s remnants?

A year and a half after post-tropical storm Fiona ripped through Prince Edward Island, some are raising questions about how to deal with the debris that remains.Provincial officials have estimated that 13 per cent of the woodland on the Island lost at least 70 per cent of its trees in the September 2022 storm. The clean-up job was massive. Crews worked for weeks to untangle a web of downed trees and power lines, while the P.E.I. government opened 41 disposal sites to its contractors and another 16 for people to drop off their Fiona debris free of charge. “It’s quite a large area full of everybody else’s debris,” said Monica Simpson, who lives next to one of the provincial disposal sites in St. Ann, just south of Cavendish.The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure says this site in St. Ann should be cleared up by this spring. ( Shane Hennessey/CBC News)Despite the province closing all the sites down at the end of October 2023, she said this one hasn’t been cleared out in more than a year. In fact, she said the pile of debris has only gotten larger. “People continually drop things,” Simpson said. “They’ve had to push it back off the road several times.”It’s also wildfire season across Canada. With the weather warming up, Simpson worries the pile of drying out trees and branches could be dangerous.”Everybody else’s fire hazard has now become our fire hazard,” she said. “It’s a large pile of wood that we would really like to see gone.”P.E.I.’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said it hopes to have all 16 sites cleared by the fall, and the plan is to have the site on Route 224 near Simpson’s property done this spring.’We’re still cleaning up’There’s a reason debris is still being added to the Route 224 property, said the owner of a local tree service company.The work still isn’t done.’We all want to work together and move on from this,’ says Chris Barrett of Red Isle Arbortech. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News)”We will be [cleaning up] for a long time,” said Chris Barrett, with Red Isle Arbortech.”We’re still cleaning up, honestly, debris from [post-tropical storm] Dorian [in 2019] in some of the sites.”Barrett said he would like to see some sort of debris disposal site available for private contractors. Right now, he takes truckloads to Island Waste Management’s drop-off centres — sometimes multiple times a day. But at $115 per tonne, he said it’s just too expensive for some companies. “That ends up being pretty much what I’m charging for labour,” Barrett said.Island Waste Management Corporation said because more yard and tree debris has been arriving in recent years, it has to enforce the commercial rate to keep residential fees from increasing.Right now, the residential rate ranges from $5 to $30 per load.Still, Barrett hopes everyone can work together to find another solution. “That’s kind of the Islander way, at the end of the day,” he said. “We all just want to work together and make it so that everybody can move on from this.” 

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