No matter how bad the breakup, there’s no excuse for dumping your ex’s things in the woods.
“I have literally had divorce papers in my hand at a dump site,” said Cameron Baughen, solid waste management co-ordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. “We’ve found a lot of summons papers, divorce papers, corrections papers. We aren’t the only ones that have come across this. It’s verified through studies.”
Divorce or relationship breakup was listed as one of the main triggers for illegal dumping during a presentation to directors of the RDOS Thursday. Baughen said the research, which he learned about at a 2017 Recycling Council of B.C. conference, has found money is rarely the reason for illegal dumping. Audits of dump sites show most often the cost to legally get rid of materials is between $5 and $10.
Other triggers for illegal dumping listed in the presentation include moving or being evicted, legal troubles, mail property theft and paying someone to remove waste.
“Sometimes contractors, that residents hire to do work and get rid of waste, actually illegally dump it,” he said.
Other culprits include illegal grow-op operators and disgruntled landlords.
“We’ve run into a lot of people evicting tenants. They’re upset. They’ve been cheated on their rent, had to go through the process and they aren’t going to pay a goddamn penny more,” Baughen said.
Noted in the presentation was increasing problems of illegal dumping on Penticton Indian Band lands.
Regional district staff are working with the PIB to come up with solutions and a presentation about the issue is expected at the Oct. 5 RDOS meeting. Also expected to present during that meeting is the South Okanagan Trail Alliance, who have cleaned up illegal dump sites in the past.
The increase of bulky item pickup in communities throughout the regional district has proven to be a bright side for the illegal dumping issue. Baughen said the district is seeing fewer couches or other large items on the side of highways or in ditches because they are being put at the curb and picked up by waste management.
At this point, the RDOS doesn’t have many options in the way of punishment for illegal dumping. When material is found identifying those responsible, a letter is sent out by RDOS staff, but there are no mechanism for the regional district to issue fines.
“Courts have a high standard of proof. If we do decide to fine someone, the courts have said we basically have to videotape them removing items from their vehicles,” he said.
RDOS staff does help cleanup illegal dumping sites when time allows. Staff also helps with community cleanup days, provides gloves, bags and reimburses tipping fees with documentation.
Hours of operation could be increased or changed so the transfer stations and landfills were open later, but that needs to be addressed during budget deliberations, Baughen said.