Illegal dumpers may soon face fines

Trail council and city staff are reviewing the ticketing bylaw to include a fine for illegal dumping.

People who dump their junk may soon be subject to more than a slap on the wrist.

Trail council and city staff are reviewing the ticketing bylaw to include a fine for illegal dumping because currently, offenders only receive a warning letter by mail.

City cameras have captured a number of vehicles driving up to the Sunningdale water tower area with full loads then coming back down empty.

Licence plates have been pulled, vehicle owners identified and “cease and desist” letters sent – but that’s all that can be legally done at this point.

Ongoing clean up costs fall solely to Trail taxpayers every time the city picks up messes, most often found in Sunningdale’s upper bench, around Violin Lake and near airport lands in Waneta.

“What I have been researching is making a change to our Municipal Ticketing Bylaw to include a fine for illegal dumping,” confirms Michelle McIsaac, the city’s corporate administrator. “In this way, rather than receiving a warning letter, those observed dumping illegally will receive a ticket.”

Provided the fine is under $1,000, the city’s bylaw enforcement officer can issue the notice after the fact.

Before fines are implemented, however, any bylaw changes require council consideration, three readings and final adoption.

The proposed bylaw amendment is tentatively slated for the Oct. 26 regular council meeting, added McIsaac.

Those changes can’t come soon enough for the city’s public works department.

“This illegal dumping costs the taxpayers’ dollars because of the additional work we need to do,” says Larry Abenante, manager of Trail’s public works. “There’s signage telling people not to dump and signage telling them there are cameras,” he explained. “I don’t know what else we can do.”

The problem persists, which is worst in the area north of Sunningdale, Abenante pointed out.

“Yes, there are people dumping one time,” he said. “But other people are caught on video going up there umpteenth times, and they are from all over like Rossland Avenue, Sunningdale, Glenmerry, and Warfield.”

He also challenges the fallacy that illegal dumpers don’t have money for landfill fees or lack awareness about the environmental harm of their actions.

Photos Abenante shared with the Trail Times show mostly newer model trucks with attached trailers, fully loaded with waste.

There’s a shot of a young woman stylishly dressed driving a shiny white SUV-type vehicle. She stops in the middle of a grassy field, opens the hatchback and unloads boxes and garbage bags before hopping back in and driving away, all while an older woman sat in the front seat.

Abenante recalled that particular dump revealed a lot of dog feces, and garbage bags filled with household waste.

“These are people who can afford to go to the landfill,” he concluded.

So, the message is the city knows who you are, is planning on handing out a hefty fine, and officials have no plans of scaling back surveillance.

Trail council recently updated its video surveillance policies as the system continues to grow in size and scope.

Amendments include the additional locations of CCTV cameras within the city and at City of Trail worksites.

Notably, existing access rights to the recorded images are unchanged. That means a private citizen still has to contact the RCMP with a complaint and request a file be opened before the possibility of pulling video images.

Following the policy changes at the Sept. 28 governance meeting, Trail council opened discussion regarding the problem of illegal dumping.

“What’s the sense of having surveillance when you catch someone redhanded and they walk away knowing that nothing will happen to them,” said Coun. Sandy Santori, referring to the current municipal bylaw. “They are caught and identified, (I support) anything we can do to slap a fine on them.”