Last year, local taxpayers dished out approximately $85,000 to clean up illegally dumped trash.
“That is money that could be going to something a little more valuable,” Bob Cunneyworth said.
As the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ senior compliance and enforcement specialist, Cunneyworth deals with junk dumped throughout the south coast region. Three weeks ago, he uncovered a 20-foot power boat left high and dry on Crown land south of the Squamish Airport.
The ministry estimates the bill for disposing of the craft is approximately $1,000. After running the boat’s licence number to no avail, Cunneyworth teamed up with the Squamish RCMP. He’s now turning to the public to help solve the mystery of the landlocked boat.
“It is frustrating when dumping is within a couple of kilometres of the dump,” he said, noting the District of Squamish had previously cleaned up the same area.
Cunneyworth said he’s seen an increase in landscape debris stashed around Squamish this summer. The illegal activity coincides with the municipal landfill’s new tipping fee rates. After pouring $2.2 million worth of upgrades into the facility, on July 1 the district placed a $40-per-tonne price tag on yard waste — materials which were previously free.
Residents can help combat illegal yard waste dumping by requesting landfill receipts from landscaping companies, Cunneyworth said.
The district is proactive in combating illegal dumping, Cunneyworth said. But even with the municipality’s assistance and the aid of other government bodies, the ministry could easily spend more money cleaning out the bush, he said.
People’s behaviour needs to change, said Rod MacLeod, noting that user-pay systems are the way of the future.
Many garage disposal options are available in town, the district’s capital projects manager said. Recyclable material can be disposed at the landfill for free, as well as invasive plant species. Alternatively, items such as dressers and sofas can be taken to thrift stores and building materials to Squamish ReBuild.
Since August, the municipality has run a yard waste collection pilot project in Garibaldi Highlands. The program will be evaluated in November, MacLeod said.
Last July, the district also adopted a new illegal dumping bylaw with teeth, MacLeod said. Previously such an action came with a $100 charge. Today, material that is not taken to the landfill or placed into an approved waste receptacles comes with a fine of up to $10,000.
The district is keeping an eye on illegal dumping hotspots and plans to post signage warning individuals of the new penalties, MacLeod said.
“It costs all the taxpayers when [illegal dumping] happens,” he said.
Anyone with information on the abandoned vessel is asked to call the forest ministry’s local office at (604) 898-2128 or the RCMP at (604) 892-6100. Illegal dumping can also be reported to district bylaw officers at (604) 815-5067 or to local conservation officers at 1-877-952-7277.