Chances are you wouldn’t like it if a stranger came along and dumped a wheelbarrow full of grass clippings and branches onto your property. So why would you do it to someone else?
Spring has sprung and throughout the community, residents are cutting the lawn and cleaning up their yards. While green waste can be placed in Green Cans for pick-up as part of the municipal garbage and recycling collection service, some people are disposing of their trimmings illegally.
“They say ‘It’s just grass clippings: it’s natural and biodegradable’,” said Township of Langley Bylaw Enforcement Officer Simon Jottey, “but that takes some time and it makes a mess.
“Someone has to clean it up, and if you dump it on public property and if you are caught, you can incur a fine.”
Over the past several weeks, Jottey has watched residents going to great lengths to move their yard waste, rocks, wood, and soil off of their own property and into ditches, parks, road ways, vacant lots, and even other people’s land.
“People are cutting their grass then going across the road and throwing it away,” said Jottey, who observed a Brookwsood resident push a wheelbarrow full of lawn clippings down the road and dump them in a nearby park.
“They don’t want it but neither does anyone else. It’s not their property and municipal employees have to clean up after them.”
Staff in Langley Township’s Recreation, Culture, and Parks Division try to stop the practice by writing letters, meeting with residents, and posting signs, said Manager of Parks Operations Tab Buckner, but piles of waste have accumulated in some park spaces and must be removed.
According to Jottey, green waste dumping is not just messy and unsightly: it can hide potentially dangerous or toxic material underneath, as well as attract rats and other vermin.
“You never know what you are going to find,” Jottey said. “It is an environmental concern and an eyesore. And it’s about respect. People should respect their neighbours.”
To hinder illegal dumping, the Township’s Engineering Division ensures crews closely maintain grassy areas surrounding fenced yards that back against main roads. “If those places are well trimmed, dumping is more obvious; it can’t be hidden in the weeds,” said Manager of Operations Terry Veer. “That acts as a deterrent.”
Those who can’t be deterred, however, can be hit in the pocketbook: placing yard waste in a Township park, street, or boulevard can result in a fine of up to $150.
The Township of Langley’s Green Can program allows residents who receive municipal garbage collection to put their yard trimmings and their compostable food scraps in one container for weekly pick-up.
There is no limit to the number of Green Can/yard trimming cans that can be put out for collection. Grass clippings and twigs can be put in the cans, and branches can be bundled, tied with string, and placed beside the Green Cans for collection.
For more information about Township bylaws and the Green Can program, visit tol.ca.