Heidi McLachlan recalls the afternoon she caught two people dumping junk on rural land above her Sunningdale home.
Just two months ago the plucky grandmother confronted the pair – two men she approximates were 25 years of age.
“They drove up with a load of garbage and came down with the back of the truck empty,” she told the Trail Times.
McLachlan and her walking partner stopped the young guys and asked them where the garbage was.
“They just looked at us like it was nothing,” she said, clearly frustrated. “Like it was an entitlement and they could do whatever they wanted on vacant land.
“And they had no intention of even thinking about going back,” McLachlan vented. “It was just this attitude, like it’s an entitlement.”
Thinking a hit to the pocketbook might be the best recourse for indifference, a call to the city only piqued her dismay.
“I thought a fine was in place when I phoned the city, so I told them it was really disheartening to hear that there wasn’t,” she said. “I mean, people get a ticket when they don’t plug a parking meter, but with something like this, you can’t create a fine?”
That is readying to change this month because the city is also fed up with the mess.
Trail council gave three readings to its ticketing bylaw last month that officially adds “Illegal Dumping” as a $500 offence.
The matter is up for adoption at Monday night council, so following the meeting, the city will have the ability to issue violators a $500 fine.
McLachlan and her husband are headed south until the snow melts. But she is hopeful that come April, when she returns to Trail and begins daily walks near the water tower, that loads of garbage aren’t what lie beneath the thaw.
“Right now it’s hard to tell because of the snow but people are still dumping in areas they think the cameras aren’t like the gravel pit,” she said last week before leaving town.
“I had my neighbour’s dog one day and found him in a pile of garbage hidden behind a little knoll so you wouldn’t see it,” McLachlan continued. “It was bad, fresh garbage with diapers.”
She’s optimistic, but also skeptical, the $500 fine will deter people from dumping garbage on rural land instead of respective disposal at the landfill.
“I think the whole system has to change and there has to be a shift in attitude and this sense of entitlement,” she said. “And if you commit the crime you need to be accountable, because right now, no one is being held accountable.”
Another person who sees firsthand how illegal dumping impacts the environment as well as city coffers, is Public Works Manager Larry Abenante.
Like McLachlan, he is hopeful a monetary penalty will act as a deterrent.
During the warmer months, it is Abenante’s department called out to clean up dumps left in Upper Sunningdale, near Violin Lake, the Trail airport and often piled at neighbourhood bear proof bins.
“I am busy with other things in the winter and haven’t had time to go out and look myself,” said Abenante. “But a $500 fine, I think that’ll be a huge deterrent.”