Illegal dumping is a long-standing concern in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and across B.C. While it may represent a small fraction of the total solid waste disposed in the region, illegally dumped material can be detrimental to the environment, the economy and our own human health.
Our vast and rugged landscape provides many remote and isolated locations perfect for illegal dumping. It is this same landscape that allows wildlife to survive and thrive. The B.C Ministry of the Environment indicates that B.C. is the most biologically rich province or territory in Canada -- many of our wildlife and fish populations are of global significance. For example, the province has approximately 75 per cent of the world's stone sheep, 60 per cent of the mountain goats, 50 per cent of the blue grouse, at least half of the trumpeter swans and 25 per cent of the grizzly bears and bald eagles.
Illegal dumping is an ugly sight on our natural landscape - this negatively impacts the use and enjoyment of outdoor recreational users. Other unseen yet serious impacts include chemicals leaching into the environment with every rainfall, potentially damaging water sources and fish habitat. Illegal dumping also poses a threat to both the environment and public health and safety, especially given the wide-spread historic use of asbestos in drywall. Wildlife can be poisoned, wounded or even killed rummaging through garbage. Bears can develop a taste for the human garbage they find dumped illegally and can become a nuisance, which results in them being killed when they start coming into communities to rummage through household waste.
Illegal burning can include unregulated backyard and landclearing burns, as well as burning of debris, garbage or other materials. Even when something like yard trimmings are dumped or burned where they are not meant to be, they can pose a wildfire hazard.
While pollution from large-scale and catastrophic events often gains media and public interest, the cumulative impacts of many smaller, more lingering actions can be just as serious. Our air, water and food all come from the environment and the thoughtless decision of someone else’s waste disposal problem can trouble us for years to come.
So, what can you do to help?
Report Illegal Dumping
The Conservation Office in B.C. have a 24 hr hotline set up for people to report illegal dumping and other environmental infractions.
Report All Poachers and Polluters.
The B.C. Wildlife Foundation (BCWF) has created an iphone app that allows users to quickly report environmental infractions related to natural resource use/abuse with a few clicks. The app uploads GPS data into the BCWF mapping website and automatically fills in a R.A.P.P. violation report. Additionally, BCWF pays rewards of up to $2,000 for information leading to a conviction of persons who have violated laws related to fish, wildlife, or the environment, or damaged the property of companies or individuals who provide access to hunters and anglers. You can read the full press release here.
What else can you do?
Nearly everything we do generates some type of waste – and many of these waste products require careful storage, treatment, transport and disposal. The most important thing you can do is to manage the disposal of your materials appropriately. However, before you toss it, you can:
Before buying new items considering if you really need to.
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Place your items for sale in a garage sale or online. You can also donate items to local charities or thrift stores.
If it can’t be reused, visit www.myrecylopedia.ca to find out where you can take dozens of materials to be properly recycled.
5 ways to get rid stuff if you don’t have a vehicle
Not having a vehicle doesn’t have to be barrier when it comes to getting rid of unwanted items. Here are few ideas to help, many of which you can do from the comfort of home.
- Phone or email friends and family or post on Facebook page to see who can help you take items off your hands.
- Some charities offer free pick-up for your unwanted items. Call around and see what options you have.
- Post an ad online, making sure to indicate that pick-up is required.
- Book a vehicle with a ride share program (where available).
- If your items are landfill bound, arrange a community or neighbourhood disposal day with your neighbours and make sure someone has a vehicle. This help’s to save gas and the environment too.
What is the SLRD doing?
The SLRD Solid Waste Management Plan identifies illegal dumping as both a short and long-term priority. For 2017, the SLRD will be:
- Installing more “No Dumping” signage this spring at known dumpsites in Area C.
- Continuing to participate in, and promote Pitch-In Week Canada (learn more here) and waiving tipping fees for Community Clean-ups.
- Promoting the R.A.P.P hotline and the BCWF smart phone app.
- Undertaking an illegal dumping survey (as recommended in the Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan)
- Exploring the use of radio marketing to educate the public about illegal dumping.
It all boils down to this: as the pressures on our natural environment increase, so grows our personal and shared responsibility to protect and maintain it.