A program to curb illegal dumping is making some headway in cleaning up the region.
A recent Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) staff report outlines the progress to date – particularly that reporting of incidents is up while the amount of waste is down. The report was presented at a June meeting for the CSWM board, which is comprised of directors from the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) and Strathcona Regional District (SRD).
The report covers a period from April 2018 through March 2019, marking the end of the second year of the CSWM Illegal Dumping Prevention Program. It highlights an increase in reporting of illegal dumping. In Courtenay, reporting increased by 60 per cent, while in Campbell River there was an 83 per cent increase. Meanwhile, some areas saw a decrease in reporting last year.
“With the roll-out of the new program, much of the increase can be attributed to better reporting and cooperation between bylaw staffs to locate and investigate dumping sites,” Michael Dinesen, CSWM bylaw compliance officer and illegal dumping prevention coordinator, told the Comox Valley Record via email. “While there has been an increase in reporting of sites, the overall amount of illegally dumped waste removed from the service area has decreased over the two years of the program.”
The report notes the amount of waste was less this last year than during the first year of the program, dropping from 64.4 tonnes of illegal waste in year one to 21.5 tonnes for the most recent reporting year. This translated into waived tipping fees of $2,832.58 for the year ending March 31, 2019, compared with $8,294.43 from the first year.
Some of the most common illegally dumped items are those free to dispose without an associated charge at the disposal facility (26 per cent), municipal solid waste (23 per cent), construction and demolition debris (10 per cent) and Recycle BC items (10 per cent).
One surprise was that a drywall diversion (recycling) program, which increased the price of drywall disposal from $120/tonne to $225/tonne, did not seem to bring an increase in dumping. At the same, there has been a rise of dumping mattresses, despite a new recycling program.
“Although mattresses are now also recycled, mattress dumping still seems to be an issue. However, mattresses are a recent addition to the CSWM diversion program, and it is expected that awareness around mattress recycling will increase over time,” Dinesen said.
The CSWM set up the program as a means to reduce dumping and increase the reporting of activity through better public education such as their website, signs, public outreach and clean-up events in communities such as Courtenay, Gold River, Tahsis and Sayward. It has also worked with lumber companies to better monitor remote areas on their properties where people sometimes go to get rid of material. People can also be ticketed if caught, even if they have come from outside the CSWM service area.
CSWM encourages people to report illegal dump sites online at cswm.ca/illegaldumping or by calling toll free 1-800-331-6007 or 250-334-6000.