The RDN has launched a new campaign to bring awareness to the problem of illegal dumping. What are they doing? What more can be done?
Illegal dumping is a huge problem on Vancouver Island. Sick of the destruction, many people have taken the task of cleaning up illegal dump sites themselves.
In 2016, the RDN recovered over 35 tonnes of illegally dumped material. Pursuant to RDN Bylaw No. 1386, those who generate, deliver or abandon waste illegally can be subject to a fine of up to $200,000.
Illegal dumping includes but is not limited to:
- household garbage
- yard and garden clippings
- construction and demolition waste
- furniture, appliances etc.
Why do people dump illegally?
There are two main reasons people don’t drop off their waste at the landfill:
- dumping fees
- hours of operation
One of the biggest obstacles to residents is the cost of dumping. For example in Nanaimo there is a minimum charge of $5 to dump off yard waste at the NRE on Kenworth Drive. For a small truck the charge is $10 or for a trailer full it’s $15.
In other municipalities residents can drop off yard waste free of charge. The Regional District of North Okanagan accepts yard and garden waste FREE OF CHARGE year round at all RDNO Recycling and Disposal Facilities.
Then there is the added inconvenience of having to drive to a recycling facility. The one on Kenworth Drive is full of potholes and the road is terrible after a rain. No wonder people are “losing” their yard waste somewhere over the fence. How many people are just putting yard waste into their garbage cans which further adds to the landfill?
The solution is to make dumping free and convenient.
Invasive Plant Infestations
The Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) has discovered new sites where yard waste dumping has led to invasive plant infestations – both within regional landfills and at illegal dumping sites. Some invasive plants such as knotweed or ivy can re-sprout from small stem or root fragments.
The biggest question we have to ask ourselves is what kind of community do we want to live in? You either pay people to patrol rural areas looking to catch illegal dumpers or you take the same amount of money or even less and let people drop off their yard waste for free.
Also, when people throw their lawn clippings over the back fence or dump plants and prunings in the bush, the piles of green waste become breeding grounds for rats.
In Richmond, BC they have a reward program for citizens who report illegal dumping. Citizens can collect $200 on the conviction of a dumper.
Garbage and Recycling App
Recently, the City of Nanaimo announced that they have acquired an app which would remind residents when to put out their garbage and recycling. What wasn’t mentioned was how much they paid a Vancouver tech firm, ReCollect to do it. The RDN also used the same company to answer a few basic questions on their website.
ReCollect digitized garbage collection schedules and maps in order to enable citizens to download it into their calendar or set up a recurring email reminder. ReCollect has made a hefty profit at basically no cost to themselves by using open source data – something an RDN staff member or a summer student could have done.
Donald Duck Litterbug
Everyone has met a ‘Donald Duck Litterbug’ but there is still hope for their offspring. If you see any dumping happening or has already occurred, report it to Solid Waste Services by calling 250-390-6560, 1-877-607-4111 (toll-free) or you can call the BC hotline Report All Poachers and Polluters at 1-877-952-7277 (#7277 from cellphones).