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‘Very disheartening’: Lethbridge officials react to rise in illegal dumping

Click to play video: 'City officials concerned about increased illegal dumping in Lethbridge' City officials concerned about increased illegal dumping in Lethbridge
As waste and recycling centres reopen around Lethbridge, officials say they’ve seen reckless behavior at multiple sites and an increase in illegal dumping. Emily Olsen reports – May 7, 2020

City officials said the reopening of the Lethbridge’s four main waste and recycling sites amid the COVID-19 pandemic has had a rocky start.

“We had, at one point, I will say probably close to 300 people in line in the first four hours,” general manager of the city’s waste and recycling services, Joel Sanchez said.

READ MORE: Lethbridge city councillor frustrated after finding trash, animal remains steps away from park

Despite online resources and reminders for essential trips only, yard waste sites had some heavy traffic on Monday and Tuesday, Sanchez said.

“We had mattresses, we had couches. Even on the north side, we had parts of a vehicle that someone had disposed of on the site.”

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In light of these increases, the city has had to hire additional staff to monitor and enforce the sites — tax dollars the city was hoping to avoid spending, Sanchez said.

“At the end of the day, this is a cost for the utility,” he said. “It’s an additional cost that we have to incur because of all the misbehaviour that we see from people.”

Donation bins across the city have also been targets of illegal dumping, as well as rural properties and parks, Sanchez added.

“Some people, they just don’t care… They don’t pay attention and they just want to get rid of all the materials that they want, and they don’t think about the consequences.”

Click to play video: 'Illegal dumping on the increase in Okanagan during coronavirus pandemic' Illegal dumping on the increase in Okanagan during coronavirus pandemic
Illegal dumping on the increase in Okanagan during coronavirus pandemic – May 5, 2020

In a statement provided to Global News Thursday evening, a spokesperson from Lethbridge County said residents can face punishments for improperly discarding of waste.

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“A person who is found to have illegally dumped waste on public or private property is subject to a violation ticket and required to clean the area,” the statement said.

“There are four transfer stations located within the boundaries of Lethbridge County… There are no fees for residents of Lethbridge County, the Town of Picture Butte and the Town of Nobleford for depositing household garbage, including lawnmowers, couches, chairs and mattresses at any of the transfer stations.

READ MORE: City of Lethbridge prepares for next stages of COVID-19

According to city officials, some tips to keep everyone safe and lines moving quickly include: 

  • delivering yard waste in paper bags
  • pre-sorting like-items together 
  • ensuring that larger branches, larger loads and non-yard waste are all taken to the landfill instead of smaller sites.

“It’s pretty tough, not only for us but for our staff as well,” Sanchez said.

“We put a lot of work and effort to maintain the sites really clean. We all want to have a city that is clean, a city that is enjoyable, and we want to have everybody do their part.”

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