When you look at the latest illegal dump in West Trail, it’s obvious much of the litter is recyclable or likely re-usable.
That means, the cost to divert the toss-offs appropriately in the landfill would actually be quite minimal.
So knee-jerk reactions about landfill fees are off-base, says Alan Stanley.
“Not only is the blame misdirected, it is harmful that the comments perpetuate incorrect information,” Stanley said, referring to postings about the story on the Trail Times website. “For those blaming the fees at the landfill, look at the photos; most of the stuff is recyclables that are free to drop off at the landfill or at the bottle depot in the Gulch,” he pointed out. “Or people could put it in their blue boxes, also free.”
Stanley is director of environmental services for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).
“A service is provided that collects the materials from people’s door steps at no charge and there are two facilities each open seven days a week,” he said.
“One literally in the neighbourhood, that accepts most the materials at no charge – some comments conclude landfill fees are the cause; there is a gap in logic there.”
Roly Russell , Chair of the RDKB Environmental Services Committee, responsible for regional solid waste management, stated, “The people dumping inappropriately are disrespecting the environment and their fellow citizens”, Russell continued, “the reality is that the vast majority of people dispose of their waste properly; this is a situation where a tiny number of people cause distress and expense for all of us.”
The recent offence, wherein a heap of clothes, shoes, bedding and household refuse was abandoned next to a set of West Trail stairs, came just days after “People are sick of it,” a national story about B.C. communities grappling with illegal dumping, came out on CBC.
“This is an onion that has a lot of layers,” Brock MacDonald, CEO of the Recycling Council of British Columbia, is quoted saying in the CBC story. “No matter how you peel it, you tend to end up crying.”
The reader who sent photos to the Trail Times, however, is more frustrated than tearful with the scourge of illegal dumping spread throughout West Trail and other pockets in the city.
“This is what all the participants of ‘Storm the Stairs’ saw this morning (Saturday) on the stairs from LeRose Street to Rossland Avenue, how awful,” she wrote. “I do the best I can to keep my neighbourhood clean, but I draw the line at this filth. This is caused by humans, not bears. I am ashamed that such a thing happens where I live.”
The resident only became aware of the mess after a friend parked his car at her home then walked down the stairs to catch a bus on Rossland Avenue.
“This particular area along the stairs is always a dumping ground and I personally clean it up as much as I can manage,” she told the Trail Times. “But this was the worst I have ever seen it.”
The garbage has since been disposed of – first thing Monday morning, the city hired a contractor to pick up the mess.
Larry Abenante, public works manager, says two workers filled the back of a truck with seven bags of garbage and pile of miscellaneous debris.
The cost to taxpayers was the clean up – the regional district waived tipping fees because the load was an illegal dump.
“We just went through all our stairways prior to this event,” Abenante said. “This was just recently brought to our attention by one of the Graffiti Grannies who walked the stairs to figure out her route for (‘Storm the Stairs’),” he continued. “We (Abenante and grounds superintendent Patrick Gauvreau) just went through all the stairs to fix and make sure they were safe, so when we were told about this, we walked through again but didn’t see it.
“So this is recent, and it did not look good for an event like that.”
How to solve the problem is anybody’s guess, but communities across the province are mobilizing volunteers to start cleaning up the heaps.
Lower Columbia communities can join the cause next weekend. Volunteers are<s