Illegal dumping spike in Central Okanagan hard to quantify - InfoNews

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Illegal dumping spike in Central Okanagan hard to quantify

Illegal dumpsite in Smith Creek.
Image Credit: City of West Kelowna
April 28, 2020 - 7:00 AM

While a Kelowna Conservation Officer and forest clean up founder are reporting what they see as spikes in illegal dumping this year, the numbers are harder to quantify.

Kane Blake, from the Okanagan Forest Task Force, backed up the Conservation Officer who said last week he has noticed a 'horrific' increase in garbage dumped in the backcountry this year.

“There’s a lot of new garbage that needs to be cleaned up but we haven’t arranged a clean up because of this whole pandemic,” Blake said. “A lot of it falls on this pandemic. A lot of people aren’t working, they’re home, they’re doing yard work, they’re doing spring cleaning…. (Last week) I did a dump run myself. I sat in a lineup for over half an hour.”

"Landfill prices, it is what it is, they have to process the garbage and nothing’s free... (but) not a lot of people want to sit in a lineup for more than half an hour,” he said.

Everything from yard waste to stainless steel fridges and patio sets have been dumped off forest service roads, he said.

“You name it, it’s up there now… People just don’t care.”

Postill Road in Lake Country, Carmi Road in Penticton, in Peachland near Brenda Mines Road, back roads around Glenrosa in West Kelowna and Vernon near King Edward Lake are all popular illegal dumping spots, Blake said.

Terry Myroniuk, a Kelowna Conservation Officer, said in a previous interview with iNFOnews he suspected higher fees at landfills correlated to the increase in illegal dumping on Crown land as well as the pandemic.

“There will be more people at home so there’s more time to clean up garbage and (dump it,)” he said.

Tipping fees for garbage per tonne have been steadily increasing at the Glenmore landfill since 2017 in order increase its capacity and keep the landfill in operation. In 2017, the tipping fees were just $65 per tonne for garbage, but that has steadily risen to $100 as of 2020.

READ MORE: Big fee increases essential to keep the Central Okanagan's only landfill in operation

Glenmore landfill has indeed seen a spike in traffic compared to this time last year, but April is always the busiest month for the landfill, said Scott Hoekstra, manager of landfill and composting operations, at the City of Kelowna.

“We’re up 7.5 per cent over last April in total vehicles coming through. When it comes to residential traffic, people coming in with little loads, we’re up 22 per cent and on the green waste and pruning type material, we’re up 24 per cent in traffic,” he said.

They don’t keep track of line-up wait times, he said, but webcams on the City of Kelowna’s website can be used to check lineups.

He said he couldn’t confirm there’s more illegal dumping in Kelowna, but there has been an increase in aggressive behaviour at the dump. The landfill hired six more employees for the season, which is typical for this time of year.

“Illegal dumping is an interesting beast… some areas of the province have no tipping fees at their landfills and they still see illegal dumping. Unfortunately, illegal dumping... is a bit of a social mindset and until people believe it’s unacceptable, there’s always going to be a segment of the population that does that,” he said.

READ MORE: Okanagan Conservation Officer sees ‘horrific' increase of illegal dumping during pandemic

Rae Stewart, waste reduction facilitator at the Regional District of Central Okanagan, said they work with the Conservation Officer Service to tackle illegal dumping.

“Have they shared that specific message with us yet? That they’ve seen a spike (in illegal dumping) and that all of things are increasing? No, that hasn’t happened,” she said, adding that it might be early in the season for the district to be notified.

The regional district responds to reports of illegal dumping on Crown land and in electoral areas, but relies on the public to report cases but so far 2020 is on par with previous years, Stewart said.

Qhwn the snow starts to melt and the people start to head out into the woods more in April in May, is right around the time where they'll begin to see cases reported, she said.

“The residents are our eyes, they’re out in the bush… so we’re right around the cusp of the time that would typically happen.”

From 2010 to 2019, the average number of dump sites has been around 65 reports per year, she said. She couldn’t say if people are outdoors more and illegally dumping because the district hasn’t received those reports. 

Stewart said the “behaviour of the illegal dumping in the bush is the behaviour of the select few.”

There’s no correlation with tipping fee increases and increases in illegal dumping, she said. However, those numbers are based on reports made from the public to the district and neither the regional district, nor the City of Kelowna, actively seeks out illegal dumping. If it's not reported, it's not logged and not acted upon so it's entirely unclear how much people are dumping at any time.

READ MORE: Will illegal dumping go up along with Kelowna landfill fees?

“(Tipping fee increases are) sporadic across the region… and (fees) don’t go up in large increments,” she said, adding that the numbers reported are pretty standard each year, indicating that there hasn't been a spike in illegal dumping related to the fees.

She said there isn’t any data to support the thought people might be deterred to take their trash to the bush by long wait times either.

“The message that we’ve put out is please reach out to us and let us know where these spots are,” she said, adding the district cleans up environmental and safety hazards urgently, but other sites may take longer to get to because of the pandemic.

“This whole program relies on people that play in the bush to report to us, and very often they help us with the larger scale cleanups,” she said.

To report cases of illegal dumping call the regional district at 250-469-6250, email recycle@rdco.com, use an online reporting form or use the the 'Report a Problem' function on the Recycle Coach App.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 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.

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