Volunteer group says it's time to shame illegal garbage dumpers in Central Okanagan - InfoNews

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Volunteer group says it's time to shame illegal garbage dumpers in Central Okanagan

Just a bit of the garbage dumped in Central Okanagan forests this year.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/OkanaganForestTaskForce
May 05, 2020 - 2:00 PM

A group of Okanagan volunteers is changing its tactics in the fight against the illegal dumping of garbage in the bush.

The Okanagan Forest Task Force is going to publish videos of offenders caught getting rid of their garbage to social media in an effort to change their behaviour by shaming them. It also hopes the media will publish the videos.

“Before, we had photos and stuff and we would try to hand things over (to authorities),” Kane Blake of the Okanagan Forest Task Force told iNFOnews.ca. “This year, we’re taking a whole different approach."

"If we catch someone illegally dumping here, you can catch yourself on the 5 o’clock news or wherever – any of the media sources. I’m not doing this whole ‘oh, I hired a friend or I did this or I did that’. I’m over that. Everyone uses that excuse.”

In the past, the group has put up night vision cameras but did not have much success.

“We mentioned it about a year ago that we were going to put cameras in,” Blake said. “They usually become target practice before we can even get to them.”

The first footage of offenders is due out later today, May 5, after someone was recorded dumping furniture off an unnamed road last night, according to a task force Facebook post. The dumping was caught on dash cam and cell phone, and the task force members got the culprits to pick up the furniture then followed them into town, where they fled, the post said.

And it’s not only garbage that’s being tossed. Blake said there are truckloads of yard waste being dumped, particularly along the lower levels of Gillard Creek Forest Service Road in the Central Okanagan.

“We live in a place where we’re known for our forest fires,” he said. “Why are you feeding it potential fuel? It’s going to burn regardless, no matter what, if we have another forest fire. But why feed it the fuel? We have fire crews that need to walk through this and machinery that needs to get through this. Stop giving it fuel.”

Blake said the amount of garbage has increased significantly this year and puts some of the blame on COVID-19 where people are home more doing cleanup but don’t want to wait in line at the Glenmore Landfill or don’t want to pay the tipping fees, although the Regional District of Central Okanagan says there has been no real increase in the number of dumping sites recorded this year.

Blake said his group has reported dump sites to the regional district in the past and is going to start doing so again. He’s encouraging others to do the same.

“People aren’t reporting the dump sites so on the (regional district's) map it doesn’t look like there’s anything new but when you go into the bush it looks like the landfill,” he said.

Jodie Foster, communications director with the regional district, encouraged more reporting so she can send a contractor out to do some of the cleanup. She can also provide volunteers with signs to post at these sites.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro 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.

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