A Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw enforcement report for January-June 2021 says illegal dumping has decreased, compared to the same time in 2020. However, there are still problem spots, say officials. (Black Press file)

A Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw enforcement report for January-June 2021 says illegal dumping has decreased, compared to the same time in 2020. However, there are still problem spots, say officials. (Black Press file)

Illegal dumping complaints drop in rural RDN, but remain hard to enforce

RDN electoral area services committee receives report on bylaw enforcement for January-June

Complaints of illegal dumping in Regional District of Nanaimo’s rural areas have dropped, but are still proving to be troublesome for the RDN.

A bylaw enforcement report with data from the first half of 2021 was presented to the RDN electoral area services committee July 8. Based on that report and figures from 2020 provided to the News Bulletin, overall illegal dumping complaints dropped from 41 to 27. RDN electoral Area C (Extension-East Wellington-Pleasant Valley) saw the most complaints, with 11 in the first half of 2021, compared to eight during the same time in 2020.

Tom Armet, RDN manager of building and bylaw services, said Area C has a number of dump sites that can be significant. Illegal dumping calls are hard to enforce, with no definitive evidence pointing to violators, as dumping often happens under the cover of night or in areas that are secluded, he said.

“We do have one right now (in Area C) that is big piles of drywall and we’re working with a bunch of different agencies on that one, cleaning it up,” said Armet. “They’re not trifling type of dumps, they’re not just a bag of garbage thrown out. They tend to be more household garbage that people are taking out into the bush and leaving there.”

Cedar-South Wellington-Cassidy (Area A) saw illegal dumping complaints decrease from seven to three, Coombs-Hilliers-Errington (Area F) saw calls drop from six to two. Dashwood-Englishman River-French Creek (Area G) saw a decrease from nine to three, and Area H (Shaw Hill-Deep Bay-Bowser) went from eight calls to five.

Area B (Gabriola Island) saw no illegal dumping calls and Nanoose Bay (Area E) saw three, the same as 2020.

In all, there were 300 bylaw complaint files opened in the first six months of 2021, the report said. There were 157 cases closed, 56 of which were from 2020, and 614 cases are currently active.

With COVID-19 regulations still in place earlier in 2021, there were 10 public health order complaints, according to the report.

“In the past, what they’ve related to is people not necessarily quarantining themselves after a trip…” said Armet. “Other ones related to events outside, large gatherings and distancing themselves and we’ve also had a complaint about a church that was holding services. As it turned out, it wasn’t a founded complaint, but we are referring these complaints over to Island Health, who’s co-ordinating response for public health orders.”

The total number of aggressive animal complaints dropped from 59 to 44, according to the report.

Seventy-three tickets were handed out and 10 disputed tickets were upheld in adjudication hearings the RDN first implemented in 2019. The process has worked well, according to Armet.

“It’s wonderful,” said Armet. “I use that term with much delight. We’ve used the new tool quite a bit to resolve issues and the adjudications have gone very well, in our favour. It’s a very good tool for the regional district and it’s a good tool for the public as well.”

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