Editorial: Ditch dumping is a costly practice

Illegal dumping cost Township of Langley taxpayers an estimated $400,000 last year.

That’s just south of half a million dollars the municipality shelled out to pick up someone else’s trash — garbage the dumper was either too lazy, too dishonest or too cheap to dispose of properly.

Tipping fees continue to rise (as they did again at the beginning of last month) and  it looks as though people have found a way to save themselves a bit of cash by cutting out the middle man and creating their own personal garbage dumps.

That they’re doing so at the expense of both the environment and their neighbours doesn’t appear to enter the equation.

Instead of paying to drop off large items at transfer stations, it’s clearly far less hassle to find a stretch of deserted road and toss everything from bags of household trash to mattresses in the ditch.

There were three incidents last week alone where Township crews were called out to retrieve discarded barrels. Two had been left on the banks of the Salmon River, according to a resident who called The Times.

It was unclear whether the metal drums contained remnants of a clandestine drug lab, though it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility.

In the case of the barrels, tipping fees may not have weighed into the decision to dump because drums in excess of 205 litres are banned from landfills, whether they’re full or empty.

Counteracting the practice is proving difficult.

Last April, Township council approved a $250,000 anti-dumping campaign that included adding one staff member for a year to co-ordinate litter blitzes, catch offenders, review surveillance camera footage and educate residents about dumping fees.

Assuming that most dumping is done in the wee hours, under the cover of darkness, it seems unlikely that too many offenders will be caught in the act. That’s too bad, because in the absence of some pretty damning evidence discovered within the garbage itself, it seems like that might be the only way to definitively identify a culprit and force them to clean up their act.

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