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.
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 or 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.
So, what can you do to help?
Report Illegal Dumping
The Conservation Office in B.C. has a 24 hour hotline set up to report illegal dumping and other environmental infractions.
Report All Poachers and Polluters (R.A.P.P.):
Call: 1-877-952-RAPP (7277)
The B.C. Wildlife Foundation (BCWF) has created an app (availalbe for Android and iPhone) 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 map 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.
5 ways to get rid of 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.
- Contact friends and family or post on Facebook to see who can help.
- Some charities offer free pick-up for unwanted items.
- 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.
Asbestos is a hazardous material. Its fibres are extremely small and can remain suspended in the air for hours. For more information on where asbestos may be located in the home, please see the SLRD’s Asbestos Management webpage. People exposed to asbestos contaminated air can inhale the fibres. If handled without precautions, such as appropriate respiratory protection, asbestos may cause serious chronic health problems or even death.
Those caught illegally dumping asbestos waste may face significant financial penalties and/or jail time as follows:
- SLRD Bylaw 1299-2013 (Consolidated) enables the SLRD to fine illegal dumpers up to $2,000, in addition to the costs of prosecution.
- Section 272 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act enables the Federal government to charge individuals who commit an offence with a fine of $5,000 to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment for 6 months to three years.
- A violation of the Environmental Management Act could result in a fine of up to $1,000,000 and/or 6 months in prison as outlined in Section 120.
What is the SLRD doing?
The SLRD Solid Waste Management Plan identifies illegal dumping as both a short and long-term priority. In 2017, the SLRD:
- Installed more “No Dumping” signage at known dumpsites in Area C.
- Continued to participate in, and promote Pitch-In Week Canada (learn more here) and waive tipping fees for Community Clean-ups.
- Promoting the R.A.P.P hotline and the BCWF smart phone app.
- Undertaking an illegal dumping strategy (as recommended in the Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan)
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.