The Regional District of Nanaimo dealt with a spike in illegal dumping cases in 2019.
A report presented at the solid waste management select committee meeting on June 2 indicated last year the RDN collected 74 tonnes of illegally dumped waste, up from 49 tonnes the year before. In the last five years, the annual average of illegally dumped materials is 62 tonnes.
The number of complaints also went up to 52 last year from 44 in 2018 in the electoral areas and the District of Lantzville.
In Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington) the RDN bylaw officers investigated 10 cases last year. Area G (French Creek, Dashwood, Englishman River) and Area H (Shaw Hill, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay and Bowser) each had 11 complaints that were dealt with.
The report, presented by RDN solid waste planner Meghan Ebueza, indicated illegal dumping activity fluctuates, going up when changes to solid waste services such as tipping fees or hours of operations occur, but only for a short term. The weather also plays a role.
The RDN has also noted an increase in individual and community group cleanup efforts during the last five years. Tipping fees are waived for the cleanup work that they do. The regional district has also hired a contractor to do the cleanups and last year, they addressed 11 sites located mainly on Crown land. RDN staff spend about 100 hours to clean up three to five tonnes of illegally dumped waste annually.
The RDN, through its solid waste management plan, has a program geared towards preventing illegal dumping. Its key components includes education, funding the cleanup of illegal dumpsites, waiving of landfill tipping fees for community cleanups and enforcement activities. Surveillance and mapping of sites are also employed, including placing warning signs.
A budget of $25,000 is allocated to the program. Last year, $23,110 was spent on illegal dumped waste not including staff and administration costs.
Ebueza stated in her report that aside from the escalating cost attached with illegal dumping, it also has serious effects on the environment, wildlife habitat and the ability for residents to enjoy their surroundings and outdoor recreational activities.