Published on July 24, 2013
A pile of illegally dumped garbage lies in an old gravel pit on Old Broad Cove Road across from Maggie’s Place, in the City of St. John’s watershed area. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Published on July 24, 2013
St. John’s city Coun. Tom Hann shows a discarded furnace within the city’s watershed boundaries Wednesday morning. Two illegal dump sites were found recently. One is just off the roadway on Autumn Drive in Airport Heights, just feet from the Windsor Lake water treatment facility and the other is in an old gravel pit on Old Broad Cove Road across from Maggie’s Place. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Less than five feet from a no dumping sign in the watershed area of Windsor Lake sits a pile of garbage that includes an old toilet and a furnace that have obviously outlived their respective functions.
The culprits obviously can’t read or simply chose to ignore the instruction by the City of St. John’s.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with people,” said city Coun. Tom Hann, clearly irate over the illegal dumping.
“It is a restricted area. You’re not allowed to be doing anything in the watershed area. You don’t build. You don’t dump. You don’t do anything,” he said, standing next to the disgusting heap that also includes tires, scrap wood, broken toys, used condoms and men’s underwear.
The site was recently discovered by a resident out for a walk with his daughter on Autumn Drive off Airport Heights Drive.
There’s a bit of a gravel buffer between the road and the otherwise pristine woodland of the watershed area, but not enough to prevent someone with a truck from driving over it and dumping their garbage in a clearing.
Hann says he wants cameras installed to catch the offenders.
“We have to declare war on these people. Out and out war so we can catch them, bring them to court and let the heavy hand of the law come down on them,” he said.
Hann said as a result of this discovery, staff at the water treatment facility — just a few metres away — came upon another illegal dumpsite off Old Broad Cove Road on the other side of Windsor Lake.
At this site is an old mattress, electronics, wooden furniture and household garbage strewn about the trees and shrubs.
“The most frustrating part of this is you know this is going on and you can’t catch people at it. I’ve been on this for years, and so have other members of council. We keep trying to catch these people and I’m hoping the cameras are going to be the solution,” Hann told reporters Wednesday.
He said two years ago he suggested surveillance be set up in known dumping areas, but it wasn’t done because of concerns about legal and privacy issues.
The city is now taking another look at the idea with the recent move by many municipalities across the province that are doing the same thing as they face the same issues given most town dumpsites have been shuttered by the province.
“I think what’s going to happen is staff are going to bring forth a proposal for the next council meeting to start installing cameras,” Hann said.
The Town of Conception Bay South was one of the first municipalities to adopt the practice and the mayor and enforcement officer say it’s working.
Mayor Woodrow French says the $10,000 spent on the equipment was a good investment.
“We were running into the same problems towns are running into now — finding remote areas where people were indiscriminately dumping garbage. We’d go in every spring and fall and clean it up,” he said.
“It certainly has more than paid for itself,” said French. “You take a dump truck, a backhoe and a team of five or six men to clean up an area —it’s no sweat to chew up $8,000-$10,000,” he said.
Once people began getting caught on camera, French said, illegal dumping in the town has dwindled to almost nothing.
The mayor said it all fell into place after the town hired Brian Cranford, a retired RNC inspector, as the manager of enforcement.
“When we first started this we couldn’t go in a back road in Conception Bay South without finding a couch or a dishwasher because people are just too lazy to drive down to Robin Hood Bay (landfill site),” said Cranford.
“But the minute we started laying charges and publicizing it, all of a sudden we went from our public works people going in and loading up dump trucks to now they can’t find anything,” he said.
French said Cranford has been instrumental in helping the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board reach out to inform other towns about the advantages of using surveillance.
The Crown agency announced in February it was embarking on a program to address illegal dumping based on C.B.S.’s success combatting the problem.
The MMSB seconded Cranford to provide enforcement training, education and installation to several towns across the province.
Labrador City, Northern Peninsula Regional Service Board, Deer Lake, Elliston, Marystown, Placentia
and Stephenville have since been invited to participate in the pilot project.
MMSB CEO Mike Sampson told The Telegram Wednesday the installation of cameras is underway in the seven areas and is expected to be done by August.
Cranford said the proof of its success, aside from a clean environment, is in the charges.
He said the town has laid 11 charges with 10 convictions — one case is before the court and fines range from $1,000-$2,000.
“We try to be in court for all the cases, and depending on the situation if we catch a contractor we ask the judge to also impose a court order to make them clean it up. That’s a big thing for us as well,” said Cranford.
“But it’s really working in C.B.S. and other places, but you have got to have the proper documentation. You have to use the provincial legislation. And when you lay the charge you have to involve the media.
“There’s no sense laying the charge if you don’t have the exposure,” he said.