(Image: Mel Rothenburger photo)
By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P
Garbage might not sound like an exciting topic to some people, but others can get passionate about it.
The TNRD is in the final phases of developing a new solid-waste management plan that’s expected to go to the board for approval this coming fall, with implementation next year.
There’s no shortage of ways to provide input and no shortage of opinions on the subject. One of the greatest concerns has been raised by residents of Barnhartvale who fear closure of the landfill there would increase illegal dumping.
As a former resident of that area I fully understand that concern. I used to ride my horse near the Lafarge Road connector and in behind the golf course and was no stranger to removing garbage from the trails.
A few weeks ago, I returned to the area and was much heartened to find that one of the worst spots has been the subject of a major cleanup and it’s looking great. It would be a shame to see it become an illegal dumping ground again.
Illegal dumping is not a phenomenon specific to any one area. There are places near Black Pines where I now live that are constantly being used for dumping of household garbage, yard waste and even renovation waste. I’ve cleaned some of it up on occasion but it’s a tough battle.
I’m confident many reading this now have experienced the same thing.
Illegal dumping is very hard to control and even harder to police.
At a recent public meeting on the solid-waste plan, TNRD board chair John Ranta reminded everyone about Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 song Alice’s Restaurant, which is about hauling a load of garbage into the bush with a VW micro-bus and dumping it.
The next morning, officer Obie calls Guthrie and says, “’Kid, we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it.’
“And I said, ‘Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope under that garbage.”
In the song, justice prevails, with Guthrie and his friend having to pick up the garbage in the snow and pay a $50 fine.
As Guthrie tells it in Alice’s Restaurant, they were just trying to do a good deed by taking Alice’s garbage to the dump, and only left it in the woods because the landfill was closed due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
In real life, at least in the TNRD, people illegally dump garbage in the bush for two reasons: to avoid tipping fees, and for convenience. They think it’s OK if it’s out of sight — at least, out of their sight.
They ignore the fact that they’re polluting the environment and defiling our great outdoors.
Part of the new solid waste plan involves continuing the fight against illegal dumping. TNRD environmental services manager Jamie Vieira says regional district staff clean up dozens, if not hundreds, of illegal dumping sites every year.
The more that illegal dumping is reported, the better we can protect our outdoors heritage.
And, by the way, public comments on the solid-waste plan close Feb. 9. To learn more, go to the tnrd.ca website home page and scroll down.
This column was originally published in the Sun Peaks Independent News.