EDITORIAL: Time for a weeklong trash amnesty, Squamish? | Squamish Chief

EDITORIAL: Time for a weeklong trash amnesty, Squamish?

Recently, trash was spewed hither tither at the base of several Hydro towers midway between Squamish Valley Road (entrance opposite the landfill) and Depot Road.

Of course, this is deplorable. To its credit, BC Hydro dispatched crews to clean it up and contacted the provincial government about the trash on Crown land.

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But the damage to the environment and wildlife is hard to erase.

This isn’t a new problem.

The Chief has written about it ad nauseam over the years.

But perhaps it is time to install a weeklong waiving of fees so that those who may not have the means to dispose of their trash, can do so in a safe way. This would include a waiver for not-for-profit environmental groups who do some much for our community.

[It is worth noting that the District does waive tipping fees during community cleanup initiatives such as Pitch-In Week and other approved community cleanup programs, but not for community groups on the regular.]

District staff argue, and it is a fair point, that the muni used to offer a “Free Dump Day” at the landfill and it was not an environmentally friendly endeavor. “It was extremely popular and the lineup to get into the landfill was long with people bringing every possible imaginable item to dispose of,” said Shannon White, the District’s sustainability co-ordinator. “There was little effort to recycle and divert waste — residents tended to ‘save up’ their waste for that one day. It did not promote good waste diversion principles or habits.”

But we are — hopefully — smarter now about these things.

Residents can see with their own eyes the $6-million vertical landfill expansion that is a result of our throwaway culture, and are more educated about environmental issues generally.

Squamish also currently has many more vanlifers and people struggling than back in the cheaper housing days.

Could we not give the fee-waiver idea one more try and see?

It costs $170/tonne at the landfill and almost half of customers who brought residential garbage loads to the Squamish Landfill between June and December 2019 paid a charge of less than $10, according to District stats.

Not prohibitive for many, but likely for some. Other communities in Canada have a fee waiver week.

Residential tipping fees were waived in Greater Sudbury, Ontario from in May last year.

In Fort McMurray, Alberta the municipality also waives landfill fees for residential household trash in May.

If all Squamish residents, meaning those who have brick and mortar homes and those who don’t, were able to bring their trash one week a year for free, would that reduce the amount of trash in our backcountry? Maybe, maybe not.

But it seems like it might be worth a try — again.

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