When Russ LaFreniere walks his dog through pathways in the beautiful Beaver Valley, he doesn’t mind picking up cans and other thoughtlessly tossed garbage, usually fast food wrappers and the like.
But the responsibility of cleaning up this latest dump near the Pend d’Oreille Cemetery falls far beyond the goodwill of one lone dog walker.
Only days ago, and to his utter dismay, LaFreniere came across a pile of construction waste that he describes as a stone’s throw away from the historic burial ground.
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He had already picked up 60-or-so beer cans from the countryside that morning, so this trash pile was especially infuriating given the locale and the sheer volume of refuse.
“I went out there again a few days ago and two trucks went in from the highway,” LaFreniere said on Friday. “I thought they were going to clean it up.”
When he asked the highway crew if they were going to haul the pile out, the answer was disappointing, at best.
“They said they might not, and that there’s stuff like this all over the place,” LaFreniere recalled. “So, the polite way to put it, is that I wasn’t very enthused about that comment.”
Therein lies part of problem with cleaning up rural areas like the Pend d’Oreille. Responsibility to pick up what good-hearted volunteers cannot, largely depends upon where the junk is dumped.
“Technically it’s out of our jurisdiction,” explained Ken Gobeil, senior planner for the regional district.
Gobeil reminds the public to contact the RAPP hotline at 1.877.952.7277 to report dumping.
(Report All Poachers and Polluters, or RAPP, is a provincial tip line and online service that allows people to anonymously report known or suspected violations of fisheries, wildlife, or environmental protection laws.)
However, if the garbage is on a road right-of-way, Gobeil says the public can contact the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure directly, or the local maintenance contractor. For this region, the service provider is YRB Kootenays.
Finally, if a private citizen or group does want to volunteer for a clean-up in the community or on Crown land, Gobeil says they can contact the regional district and apply to have the tipping fees waived at the landfill.
Besides this latest dump of construction waste, LaFreniere mentioned a burnt out car that hasn’t been removed from a Pend d’Oreille roadside since it went up in flames last year. Understandably, these larger messes add to his frustration with the endless litter strewn along roadways throughout the valley.
“I don’t go down there to pick up cans, but I do it because there is garbage everywhere,” he said. “And I am more than happy to help clean it up, but I don’t want to go down there on a regular basis.”
LaFreniere also doesn’t want his one-man effort to hit him in the pocket book when it comes to proper disposal at the landfill.
“You know, people will spend $10 worth of fuel to drive it out there when it probably only costs $15 bucks to bring it and dump it in the landfill,” he said.
“It’s disgusting, and it doesn’t make sense to a lot of us.”
Illegal dumping costs all taxpayers money, says Area Director Ali Grieve.
“Including the people doing the illegal dumping as we have to pay road contractors to go do the cleanup,” she said.
“Would the ‘dumpers’ do this if their children or grandchildren were watching?”
The best way to report these careless acts is to take photos and report it to the 24-hour RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277. Grieve added.
“No one likes to see this garbage where it does not belong.”