It’s important that the community knows council takes illegal garbage dumping seriously, says a Nanaimo city councillor leading the charge for policy and education to limit littering.
Nanaimo Coun. Diane Brennan won unanimous support from political colleagues last week to get a staff report on enforcement issues tied to illegal dumping, as well as policies and education to help clean up the problem within city limits.
According to city manager Ted Swabey, the challenge has been that garbage is generally dumped on private property where it becomes a trespass issue. The city also can’t get to it and it’s not usually the owners dumping on their lands. City staff members are looking for policy that would give them more authority to implement solutions when they see a problem.
Brennan, who considers illegal dumping a public health and safety issue, would like to see a two-pronged approach with strong education and a bylaw with “real teeth” to deal with people who are chucking garbage illegally and the landowners who could be allowing for it.
“When things just get dumped you don’t know what’s there, you don’t know what’s leaching into the ground. You don’t know whether there’s dangerous or hazardous materials being dumped so we want to be able to go onto private property and inspect those kind of things and clean them up,” said Brennan, who also points out that if the city wants to promote Nanaimo as a healthy tourism destination for its trails then there needs to be methods of ensuring they’re clean.
Louise Gilfoy, the creator of the Facebook page Stop Illegal Garbage Dumping Vancouver Island, said the problem is “hideous” and sees the need for education and enforcement as well as making illegal dumping socially unacceptable.
“I think it’s been a problem that’s been ignored for quite a while,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like it has enforcement options available that really have much teeth and people get away with it endlessly.”