KELOWNA - Illegal dumping has been a longstanding issue around the Okanagan, but with numerous recent posts on social media, along with the recent creation of a cleanup task force, the issue is one the community is certainly struggling with.
From bags of garbage, to beds, to washers and dryers, household waste is becoming a common sight at the side of the road or in our surrounding forests.
However, according to government officials, the trend is far from new, but rather the coverage on the issue has heightened.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve seen an increase in illegal dumping,” Cynthia Coates with the Central Okanagan Regional District Waste Reduction Office says. “But there’s more information in the media because of local groups that are active in addressing the issue.”
So the question on everyone's minds is why people feel the need to dump illegally, rather than going to their local landfill.
“Based on the fact that a lot of this stuff can go in their garbage bin at home, I think it’s out of convenience rather than cost, I like to think we’re pretty convenient, but it’s just one of those things,” Glenmore Landfill solid waste supervisor Scott Hoekstra says. “When I see stuff at the side of the road it’s most often things that would be minimum cost.”
Tipping fees for residential garbage are $2.50 per bag up to six bags, or a minimum charge of $10.00 for 250 kilograms or less. However, for yard waste less than 250 kilograms there is no charge.
Hoekstra says a lot of illegally discarded material, such as beds or washers and dryers, are considered recycling, and residents can actually be compensated for handing them in.
“It’s just laziness,” Kane Blake with the Okanagan Forest Task Force says. “They don’t care and just don’t think they’re going to get caught, and if they do it’s just a slap on the wrist.”
Blake started the volunteer task force back in September 2016 to address the ongoing issue of illegal dumping in the valley. Since then, the non-profit group has hauled over 111,000 pounds of waste from the bush throughout the Central Okanagan.
“When I’m not working I’m in the bush, I like being out in the wild,” says Blake. “My problem is when I’m taking my family camping and the first day we will spend clearing up because there’s just garbage everywhere, I may as well ask the City if I can pitch a tent in the landfill.”
According to Blake, the provincial and municipal governments are not doing nearly enough to tackle the issue.
“Unfortunately one of the things I’m going to do this year is I’m throwing the government under the bus - they’re no better than illegal dumpers,” he says. “How is it I’m having other provinces and countries messaging me on how they can help, and our local governments aren’t doing anything?”
Find past stories on illegal dumping here.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.