“Shocking and disgusting” – two words Columbia Shuswap Regional District waste reduction facilitator Carmen Fennell uses to describe the more than 17,000 kilograms of garbage removed from a Shaw Road site.
Using their own equipment, members of the Salmon Arm Fish and Game Club removed the huge amount of garbage from the site on Nov. 15 and 16.
“They cleaned up on Oct. 28, but there was so much left behind so Darren Warmuth, Peter Rizzi and Kyle Anchikowski returned with a mini excavator and a small dump truck and removed 17,000 kilograms of material that had been illegally dumped,” said Fennell.
In October, the group collected four large truck loads and one trailer load full of material to take to the landfill, with everything from vacuums, suitcases and children’s toys, to mattresses, wooden furniture, and bathtubs.
“I guess someone thought this was the dump – it’s gross,” said a five-year-old volunteer who accompanied his father and brother for the clean-up event in October.
Material in the latest haul included mattresses, an old lawn tractor, hot water tank, gutters, suitcases, a vacuum, pots and pans.
“It was totally disgusting and actually what was horrifying was when they were cleaning up, they saw someone in a pickup coming up the road,” Fennell says, noting the driver of the truck did a fast retreat as soon as they saw the men clearing the site. “It’s completely unsettling that this is costing taxpayers, not only for the fees which we waived, but it’s like three minutes away from the landfill and some people think it’s a better option to dump where other people have to clean it up; it’s ignorant.”
An exasperated Fennel says the site has been cleaned up by volunteer groups in the past, but just seems to be a magnet for illegal dumping.
Shaw Road is not the only chronic problem. Fennell says illegal dumping is taking place in several other areas, including 110 Road near the Canoe mill, which has been cleaned up a couple of times, Fly Hills, the Mt. Ida forestry road near the Salmon Arm Cemetery and a forestry road near the Silver Creek Firehall.
“It’s within MOE’s (Ministry of Environment) mandate to prosecute illegal dumpers, but it’s up to us to do our part and we do have a budget for that,” Fennell says. “We always tell MOE about an incident, and whenever we find incriminating identification, we send that along too.”
Anyone who witnesses illegal dumping is asked to report it to the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1-877-952-7277.
Fennell suggests people who witness illegal dumping get as much information as possible to get as much information as possible in order to help prosecute perpetrator.
Under the Environmental Management Act, the fine for depositing litter in a public place is $115. The fine for introducing waste and causing pollution is $575.
As well, The British Columbia Wildlife Federation has developed a phone app that makes it easy for users to take geo-referenced, time-stamped photos or videos and to report issues related to illegal use, or abuse, of the province’s natural resources.
The app works both in and out of service using the phone’s GPS. Reports are sent to a secure server and then forwarded automatically to the appropriate enforcement agency.
“There are millions of British Columbians’ recreating and working in the backcountry who are passionate about conserving and protecting our natural resources, states the BCWF website.
“We created the BCWF Conservation App to give all British Columbians a tool to allow us to fulfill our individual responsibility as citizens in changing the way we see, use, conserve, protect and value our natural landscape,” says BCWF president Jim Glaicar.
The mobile app and website was created by the Spatial Information for Community Engagement (SpICE) Lab at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.
The BCWF mapping website is a public website that can display environmental abuses submitted by users and to help increase awareness about the threats facing natural resources around the province.
To download the app, go to http://bcwf.net/index.php/bcwf-app.
For more information on local illegal dumping issues, contact the Carmen Fennell at 250-833-5936 or visit the CSRD website at www.csrd.bc.ca.