Trail City Hall is reminding illegal dumpers that there is a price to pay when caught – and it’s much more than simply paying tipping fees for proper diversion at the regional landfill.
Now that a three-man crew has hauled 2,200 pounds of garbage from the recent dump sites in Upper Sunningdale, Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac is emphasizing that offenders are subject to a $500 fine.
“Changes were made to the city’s Municipal Ticketing Bylaw along with some amendments to the Garbage and Waste Bylaw in early 2016 in order to enable the City of Trail to impose a fine in the amount of $500 for illegal dumping,” McIsaac told the Trail Times. “While it is not always possible to identify the offender, in cases where there is video surveillance or other evidence to support the identification of the perpetrator, a ticket can – and will – be issued our Bylaw Enforcement personnel.”
The impetus behind imposing a fine was council’s mounting concern about an increase in illegal dumping, which includes household garbage and construction refuse as well as yard and garden waste.
Prior the updating the bylaw, offenders were reprimanded through correspondence, not the pocket book.
“Where routine dumping had become obvious, security cameras were installed to monitor vehicles travelling in and out of the area,” McIsaac said. “When footage was captured of vehicles travelling in with a full load and out empty, “cease and desist” letters were sent alerting the offenders to put a stop to the observed behaviour.”
Success in capturing the offenders, including with surveillance, is still somewhat of a catch-22.
“I would say that the dumping of yard and garden waste, which many people don’t necessarily think of as being “illegal dumping” although it is, has been an ongoing problem,” said McIsaac. “However, we are now becoming more aware of household garbage and construction waste also being dumped in areas instead of the landfill – to get around the tipping fees – which is very disappointing,” she added.
“The true definition of “success” would be seeing an end to this irresponsible practice entirely.”
Another spot that has been grounds for dumping and littering is the Fort Shepherd Conservancy Area.
Terry Hanik, president of the Trail Wildlife Association reported a recent episode that occurred on the property, which is currently gated and closed to the public.
“Two trucks were down on the beach across from the gate that goes into the land conservancy in the Fort Shepherd area,” he said. “They were seen from across the river. One truck got stuck on the beach and they called for another truck to come and pull them out … while waiting for the other truck, they drank and ate and left their garbage on the beach.”
All the gates are locked for a reason, he emphasized.
“No one is allowed down there but you decided to go into that area by going around the gate,” he said. “What you did is wrong and you have jeopardized getting into that area by other people who want to go down there when the gate is open.”
The area could be open by June 1 if all related work is completed.
“Something like going down there with area closed off does not help.”
He questioned, “Would you like to see this area closed off indefinitely?”
Everyone will be watching for people and vehicles not obeying signs and rules once the land opens, he warned.
“Or like I said “the area will be shut down indefinitely.” Let’s be smart and think first what could be the consequences by doing something like this.”
Dealing with land offenses on a criminal level is tricky, but occasionally police do get involved, says Greater Trail RCMP Sgt. Darren Oelke.
“But dumping in Sunningdale is on City of Trail property and is dealt with as a bylaw issue,” he explained, noting the Conservation Service has dealt with environmental issues related to illegal dumping.
In extreme cases it could turn into an issue of Mischief under Section 430 of the Criminal Code, which deals primarily with willful damage. But Oelke says criminality would be a stretch because part of the section states ‘every one commits mischief who obstructs, interrupts, or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property’.
“This is a real problem and very difficult to prove who is responsible,” he concluded. “Even when trash is found with someone’s mail in it they just say that they had someone cleaning up for them. (We) need to catch them in the act or have good pictures or video.”
Another way tips can be reported regardless of jurisdiction, is through a provincial hotline called RAPP (Report all Poachers and Polluters).
The toll free number, 1.877.952.7277 is open 24/7 and allows callers to remain anonymous when reporting known or suspected violations of fisheries, wildlife and environmental protection.
While pollution from large-scale and catastrophic events gains media and public interest, the cumulative impacts of many smaller, more diffuse actions can be just as serious.
Illegal waste disposal of all types, even small business and household-related wastes, can be detrimental to the environment, economy and, above all, human health, the province states.
“The water we drink, the air we breathe and the foods we eat all come from the environment and the “quick fix” solution to someone else’s waste disposal problem can haunt us for years to come.”