Illegal dumping polluting Foothills

Foothills: longstanding problem creates burden

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 05:33 pm

Discarded loads like this one have been a long standing problem in the MD of Foothills.
Discarded loads like this one have been a long standing problem in the MD of Foothills.
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While the MD of Foothills spent the last year cleaning up after the flood, some people are continuing to make a mess in the area by illegally dumping garbage in ditches and along roadways.

Foothills resident Cyndi Parker said the river valley road near her house west of Okotoks is commonly filled with beer bottles and fast food bags, but lately the problem has escalated.

“This road has also turned into a dumping ground for individuals who feel they have the right to dump their truck load of trash anywhere they please,” she said. “One load includes an old bike, lawn mower, discarded pool, hockey gloves and batteries all dumped on the river bank. It’s pretty sad because it's beautiful down there”

Joe Angevine, manager of the Foothills Regional Waste Management Facility, said they’re frustrated with the increasing amount of calls they’ve received to go pick up the waste.

“We’ve probably had over 100 calls since the snow melted, it's insane,” he said. “We've fallen behind because there's been so many.”

According to Angevine, as the population in the areas increases, the illegal dumping becomes more problematic.

“I think the towns are growing and there’s just more and more people,” he said. “People see other people doing it and notice garbage in the ditches and just don’t care.

Darlene Roblin, Foothills operational supervisor of protective services, said it’s a long-standing problem in the area, and one that’s difficult to combat.

“It is one that’s really difficult for us because we pretty much have to catch them in the act to be able to identify who is responsible,” she said.

Roblin said they haven’t received enough information to lay charges against anyone so far this year, but they are doing their best to watch for the culprits.

“Unfortunately the hard part is catching them at it,” she said. “The reality of it is if you look at the geographical size of the MD of foothills, we only have four officers.

“Especially along river banks and places that are not well travelled its very difficult and that’s where we really rely upon the people living in the area to be vigilant and try to obtain license plate numbers off vehicles when they see it.”

Foothills Reeve Larry Spilak said council has been trying to come up with a solution to deal with the problem for years.

“You know it’s a very difficult situation and the enforcement people are correct in saying you have to catch these people red-handed in order to ticket them,” he said. “One of the suggestions that came out last time was to monitor some areas where there's consistent dumping by installing some cameras but we didn’t go forward with that. If it continues to get worse we might have to bring that back in for discussion.”

In an attempt to deter the dumping they did increase the fines for illegal dumping in 2012 from $115 to $500, and $1,000 for subsequent offences. Spilak said both patrolling and cleaning up after the dumping puts a strain on the MD.

“It certainly impacts our budgets,” he said. “It is the staff from the landfill who get called to pick this stuff up and it takes time away from their regular duties and of course there's a cost associated with that.”

Spilak also said that an increasing amount of the trash is coming from closer to Calgary, and suspects that it may be because their landfill fees are three times higher than the $5 minimum at Foothills.

“I think the residents in Calgary are not aware of what the dumping fees are,” he said. “Maybe if they were made aware of that maybe they would take the time to drive the extra couple of minutes and unload it at our landfill.”

In addition, the landfill has extended its hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to 6:30 p.m. to help accommodate for additional residential loads during the busy summer season.


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