Surge of complaints to 311 about illegal dumping in Calgary

WATCH: The season of spring comes with an increase in complaints about debris piling up in Calgary's back alleys. As Jill Croteau reports, if it doesn't fit in your bin, waste management workers won't take it.

It’s more than an ugly annoyance that garbage piles up in your back alley — it’s also illegal.

That’s according to Calgary bylaw services inspector Kevin Leitch. He said there has been an increase in complaints about offenders leaving debris in and around bins that don’t belong to them.

“Whoever’s property it’s on is responsible for removing it,” Leitch said Monday.

He said those commercial bins outside businesses are often seen as a welcome invitation to careless dumpers. But most often, bylaw officers are able to track the trash back to the negligent owner.

“If people have anything at all — packing slips, pieces of paper — they forgot contained in their garbage, it makes our job a lot easier,” Leitch said. “Often an alert neighbour will notice a license number and we can find out who’s responsible for the dumping.”

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It happens frequently in communities where construction work or renovations occur.

“They have shingles to get rid of and they think nobody is watching,” Leitch said. “Companies think it’s two in the morning, nobody can see them but someone does.”

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READ MORE: ‘A Google of sorts’: The wacky and wonderful calls into Calgary’s 311

Calgarians frustrated with locations where it happens chronically say surveillance video might be a deterrent. Haim Cohen thinks more cameras might help.

“It’s just irresponsible and it’s disrespecting my neighbourhood,” Cohen said.

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Dan Harrison said he’s frustrated with the growing pile in his back alley. As soon as it gets removed, more litter gets dumped.

“I get used to it, right? I call the city [and] they come by and clean up, [but] two weeks later, [it’s] back to the same norm,” Harrison said.

Since January, there have been 1,326 complaints into 311 from residents about debris. Offenders could receive a fine of $500 for leaving litter on someone else’s property. It’s a $250 fine for putting trash in someone else’s garbage bin.

Most communities have an annual cleanup where you can drop off unwanted things for free.