A mattress that got dumped off of Duncan Bay Road. Maria Provenzano photo

Tiel’s Tales: Illegal dumpers, let’s be better

This completely unnecessary problem isn’t going away

A soggy mattress, stacks of water-logged plywood, a floating microwave.

Not the items you would expect to see on a walk in the woods. But that’s exactly what Campbell River resident Maria Provenzano discovered during a walk just off Duncan Bay Road this week.

Her neighbours say the area is commonly used as an illegal dumping site.

“There’s fresh garbage there all the time,” she says.

Illegal dumping is not new; it’s been a problem for awhile.

In 2011, we reported on the City of Campbell River’s continued battle to educate people around the dangers of illegal dumping, especially in a watershed.

Stories have continued to appear over time as volunteers clean out areas that have been dumped in. In 2015, a local who spent time on some of the surrounding back roads said illegal dumping was an “epidemic.” In 2016, around 25 people cleaned up “a mess along Duncan Bay Main and Iron River logging roads, up above the Canyon View Trail.”

“There is just a huge cost all around,” Environmental educator Luisa Richardson said at the time. “When people think this is the easy way out, they don’t realize how much the cost is on sustainability.”

In 2017, Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) began an Illegal Dumping Prevention Program that took aim at the problem using enforcement and education. A report on the program after its second year showed that progress was being made. The report, which covers between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019, said that in Campbell River, reporting of illegal dumping has increased 83 per cent from when the program first began.

Between year one and year two of the program, the amount of illegal waste that was removed from CSWM’s service area went from 64.4 tonnes to 21.5 tonnes.

Data collected by CSWM suggests that the type of waste being disposed illegally hasn’t changed much. With “free items” taking up 26 per cent of the pie in 2018. This was followed by municipal solid waste (23 per cent), Recycle BC items (10 per cent), construction and demolition debris (10 per cent) and yard waste (nine per cent).

Some of the education pieces of the program are combating the notion that illegal dumping happens because of high tipping fees.

That soggy mattress from Provenzano’s walk? It’ll cost you $10 at a CSWM facility ($6 for the mattress and $4 to get into the facility.) The plywood? Construction and demolition debris weighing under 100 kg is $6 (plus that $4 access fee). Divertable wood waste is $120/tonne. And that floating microwave? It comes to a whopping $0.

So, dumpers, what gives?

Campbell River is widely known as a destination for nature lovers. So many locals enjoy spending time in the nature that surrounds us.

Let’s be better and keep our wilderness garbage-free.

If you see an illegal dump site, or witness someone getting rid of their trash, you can report it online, by calling toll free 1-800-331-6007 or 250-334-6000.

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