Illegal dumping on the rise in Kelowna amid pandemic: forest clean-up group

Amid the foliage and natural beauty found around Kelowna’s many forested areas, piles of trash are also a common sight.

“Illegal dumping is on the rise at the moment and growing fast,” said Kane Blake of the Okanagan Forest Task Force.

“The task force’s goal is simple, working to keep our forests clean and to bring public awareness to the issue of illegal dumping and its impact on forested areas.”

The increase in dumping could be attributed to, as Blake describes them, “non-reputable haulers” commissioned for spring cleaning waste, but another likely culprit is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blake said as the sequestered population finds themselves without much to do besides tidying their property, the wait at the landfill is getting increasingly arduous.

“We have been doing more yard work recently and spent about 35 minutes in the line up just last week,” Blake said. “A simple Facebook search shows lots of people looking to hire people for dump runs but the real question is how much of it is actually making it to the landfill.”

Amid the pandemic, the task force has had to halt its frequent clean-ups, but Blake is hopeful to get back to business relatively soon.

“I just hate to see our beautiful forests turning into landfills from ignorant people being too lazy to go to the landfill.”

Kelowna-based conservation officer, Terry Myroniuk, said now is usually the time of year they begin to see an increase in complaints about illegal dumping.

“Personally from what I’ve seen, it appears like about a 50 per cent increase,” said Myroniuk, adding he didn’t know the exact numbers.

Crown land and the back roads leading to it are the hardest hit, according to Myroniuk. Areas such as Beaver Lake Road, Postill Lake Road and Smith Creek Road, were three areas he mentioned specifically as popular spots.

A whole RV dumped in James Lake was recently reported to BC Conservation, said Myroniuk.

An old RV dumped at James Lake, leaking fluid into the water. (Contributed)

The Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO), which handles most of the clean-up and field complaints regarding improper dumping, said as the pandemic continues it’s been harder for them to send people to clean them up.

“Those that can be tackled, will be tackled as soon as possible,” said RDCO waste reduction facilitator Rae Stewart.

Stewart said the RDCO is counting on residents to report illegal dumping when they see it.

“People recreating in the bush, playing in the bush — those people are our eyes and ears,” she said.

The RDCO has an online reporting tool on its website that allows residents to remain anonymous. You can also call the waste reduction office at 250-469-6250.

READ MORE: Illegal dumping up Postill Lake Road in Kelowna

READ MORE: Kelowna woman hunts for golf balls nabbed off course by ravens

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