KAMLOOPS – The illegal dumping happening in parkland behind a city neighbourhood has been an issue for a number of years, and one city manager says the garbage represents a social issue more than a financial one.
Streets and Environmental Services Manager Glen Farrow says while tipping fees at the city dump have increased and could be cause for more illegal dumping the problem is more likely a social issue.
“It’s any and all product (being dumped.) It’s product that’s free at the landfill and product that’s at minimal cost at the landfill. So the whole cost element doesn’t really exist,” Farrow says. “That’s definitely a key message that even if it’s free, it’s still showing up in these backcountry road areas. It’s more of the convenience factor. It’s close to town, it’s right there.”
During a discussion at a city council meeting last July, when council members agreed to the higher tipping fees, Mayor Peter Milobar said even when the city didn’t have tipping fees people were still dumping in back areas of town.
Community Safety Director David Duckworth echoes Farrow’s sentiment on tipping fees. Even if it was free to leave items at the dump, he says people would still leave items in other areas out of convenience.
“Even places where there’s no charge, it’s more convenience to drop it off two kilometres away than four kilometres away,” he says. “It boggles my mind but there are people that still do that.”
Farrow says the popular illegal dumping site near Lac du Bois is 'probably one of the worst within city limits,' but adds the limitations for fining are complicated because part the area extends into protected provincial land.
“It’s everyone’s problem but nobody’s problem. It’s one of those situations,” Farrow notes.
Last week, a group of locals gathered to clean a portion of the site they use to 4X4. After spending a whole day cleaning, Tearia Parsons says her group filled a trailer and a pickup truck with junk. A member of Parsons’ team collected two totes worth of nails from burned pallets used for bonfires.
Parsons would like to see the city add more signs or start targeting those polluting the site.
Farrow says around 15 agencies banded together to clear the site several years ago. The cleanup yielded ten dump trucks worth of garbage. Signs were also placed on or near the site to discourage illegal dumping.
“It was a real good combined enforcement effort. I think it’s helped in some ways but it gets bad again quickly,” Farrow says.
Duckworth says many people use those signs for target practice and he's unsure of how many are still standing. Enforcing fines or prosecuting those dumping in the area is also complicated due to a lack of evidence and even if people take photos and write down license plate numbers when they witness illegal dumping, they still have to testify.
“You basically have to catch the person in the act,” Duckworth says, adding while members of the public are often willing to turn dumpers in they are reluctant about going to court. "A lot of times people aren’t willing to do that."
In the past people have recommended more surveillance in the area, but without power there’s no possibility for video surveillance and having a bylaw officer supervise the area all day wouldn’t be an adequate use of resources, Duckworth says.
While Farrow says the tipping rates won’t change at the landfill, he reminds the public the city offers free disposal on some items.
The city is also offering the annual free landfill day on March 15. To see what items you can deliver for free and to learn more about free landfill day visit the city website.
To report a polluter, contact the RCMP detachment at 250-828-3000 or call the B.C. Conservation Service Poacher and Polluter hotline at 1-877-952-7277.
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