Dave Jordan has been picking up trash dumped by others on the edge of his property for more than 20 years, but says it is now getting worse.
He relates the increase to the changes in the garbage collection system following the closure of the Terrace landfill last November, and its replacement with the transfer station in Thornhill.
The new system has regular curbside garbage collection, and extra waste can be bagged and tagged with a ticket purchased for a small fee from the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine. Or else it can be brought to the transfer station for a fee — $10 for a load of garbage up to 200 pounds, and more costing $110 per tonne.
Dave Jordan lives on Dover Road just south of the old Terrace landfill on Kalum Lake Drive, and he says garbage dumping has significantly increased since the new system and its fees kicked in.
He collected four garbage bags of scattered trash on the edge of his property April 4, which he assumes was dumped by people who came to the landfill and found it closed.
“They just come around the corner and dump it off,” he guessed.
With his home just around the corner from the dump, and a deep ditch between his property edge and the road, Jordan says he has been cleaning up dumped household trash since he moved there more than 20 years ago.
But that trash has more than doubled since the garbage fees have been levied.
“I’d be lucky to get half a bag in a month other years,” said Jordan. “You can get four bags now.”
And while Jordan has gotten used to picking up people’s trash, he draws the line at paying for it.
“I don’t think it’s right that I have to pay to have it taken away,” he said, referring to the new system with fees for extra trash.
Jordan said the regional district originally told him he would have to buy a ticket, but when he mentioned going to the media they quickly responded and picked up the extra trash the next day.
“I’m happy they had a quick response,” Jordan said, but with this likely an ongoing issue, he wants an exception for cleaned up litter incorporated into the bylaw.
“I want to get the tipping fee dismissed if its garbage dumped by somebody else on your property,” he said, adding that he is going to pursue the bylaw change at the next meeting and hopes others will support it.
He adds that next month when he picks up dumped trash, he plans to call the garbage contractor Nechako Northcoast and hopes they will pick it up as before.
Speaking about the idea of a bylaw exception, regional district waste services coordinator Murray Daly said it would be difficult to implement.
“How are we to know that you’re cleaning up somebody else garbage and not just bringing your own?” he asked.
“It’s a noble idea.. but it’s got to be realistic to implement and to oversee,” he added.
As for garbage dumping, Daly says he doesn’t believe the issue had gotten worse since the landfill closed.
“I don’t know that there’s an increase,” he said. “I think more people are looking for it. More people are aware of it, or are starting to notice it more because they are on the hunt for it.”
Daly says that for any responsible citizen, nearly all garbage can be dealt with at no extra cost through curbside collection or stewardship programs.
“For somebody to drive down a back road and toss two bags of household garbage, there’s no reason for it,” he said, adding that the cost for extra trash is very reasonable.
Just the same, the regional district is aware that garbage dumping is a problem, Daly said, and a working group has formed to look at the issue.
It includes the regional district, Conservation Service, garbage contractor Nechako Northcoast, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrasructure, and the Ministry of Forests.
“We’ve tried to identify what the challenges are, and how we can work towards a solution… whether its blocking roads, signage, public education campaigns, or things like that,” said Daly.
Enforcement can’t be carried out unless the culprits are identified, added Daly, noting that if anyone sees people dumping garbage, they should report vehicle identification, licence plates or names.