More enforcement and resources needed to curb illegal dumping near Penticton
The South Okanagan Trail Alliance and the Penticton Indian Band say more needs to be done to fight illegal dumping and littering on public and reserve lands.
“Penalties need to be strengthened so that it puts the fear of the penalty into people’s souls,” said Andrew Drouin, President of the South Okanagan Trail Alliance.
He took a Global News crew on a tour in the back country of the Carmi-Beaverdell area east of Penticton.
Hundreds of gun shell casings littered the ground at an unsanctioned shooting range, garbage was piled up at an illegal campground, and discarded items were scattered all over.
The public can camp on crown land for no longer than 14 days. Drouin witnessed well established campgrounds that had been there for several months.
Drouin said he is also seeing an increase in household and construction waste being disposed.
“What we sort of have begun to see a lot of lately is people doing renovations and coming up here and dumping everything from the renovation in the bush,” he said.
The Penticton Indian Band is also dealing with an increase in garbage associated with camping and residential and industrial waste being dumped on reserve land.
“It’s getting much worse, the illegal camping is getting much worse,” said James Pepper, Director of Natural Resources with the band. “More resourcing directed to it would be very beneficial.”
The Conservation Officer Service is responsible for enforcing littering and illegal dumping laws on crown land and the RCMP on Federal Reserve land.
Conservation officer Tobe Sprado said fines range from $100-$2000 depending on what is dumped and where although prosecution is rare due to a lack of evidence.
The Penticton office has received 24 littering complaints since April and issued two warnings.
“The ideal situation is if somebody gets a license plate number and actually sees it and is willing to be a witness and willing to go to court over something like that,” Sprado said.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen said it doesn’t have the power to issue fines and that those who do are under resourced.
“When I speak to conservation officers, they are very serious about illegal dumping but they have a man power shortage to deal with every illegal dump site in our area,” Solid Waste Management Co-ordinator Cameron Baughen said.
Some people blame the increase in dumping on tipping fees at the landfill.
“The last ten years we have seen a significant increase in terms of tipping fees,” Baughen said. But he insisted there’s little correlation between tipping fees and illegal dumping.
“Materials that are ending up there are free or cheap and very little of it is garbage which we have raised the fees on.”
Outdoor enthusiasts like Drouin are fed up, “I know people are getting away with it,” he said.
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