The Regional District of Nanaimo will try to enlist the help of other local governments on Vancouver Island to draw the province’s attention to the issue of illegal dumping.
The RDN will forward a resolution to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, asking the B.C. Ministry of Environment to provide information on the progress of a provincial illegal dumping working group and to “review resources and strategies for addressing illegal dumping and optimize partnerships with local governments to more effectively combat [the] problem.”
The RDN said last year that 74 tonnes of improperly disposed waste was collected in 2019, an increase from 49 tonnes in 2018. The RDN sees 62 tonnes of illegally dumped waste a year on average and over the past two years, 12 per cent of bylaw complaints in rural areas related to illegal dumping, a staff report said.
The working group was first mentioned by the ministry in 2017, in response to previous illegal dumping resolutions from other municipalities. Ben Geselbracht, RDN director and solid waste management select committee chairperson, told the News Bulletin that illegal dumping is an ongoing issue.
“The resolution is [meant] to keep this as an issue and inquire about what are the outcomes of this working group and what ideas are out there to support regional districts with this,” said Geselbracht. “With COVID and the increase of homeless encampments, that there has been a bit more illegal dumping occurring and it does come cyclically throughout the years. It always becomes a little bit of an issue for a bit and goes back to its baseline level.”
Geselbracht said it is something that more provincial support and resources could be put toward, as Crown lands and rights-of-way where garbage is dumped is provincial jurisdiction.
“I really appreciate the work that the Ministry of Environment puts towards waste management and recycling and the circular economy and zero waste,” said Geselbracht. “They’ve got a lot of different irons on the fire and priorities. This is one of those items that’s just a reminder, that this is still an ongoing issue … there’s still an accumulation of waste on provincially managed lands.”
The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The AVICC conference will be held virtually beginning May 28. If there is enough support at the AVICC conference, the resolution could be forwarded to the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference on Sept. 13.