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Illegal dumping up 15% in Surrey since pandemic began

Surrey council approves ‘enhancement’ of fines and enforcement
An example of illegal dumping in Surrey. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey city council is looking at new ways to tackle illegal dumping, which has increased by 15 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“This is one of the most frequent complaints I’m sure a lot of us get up here during the course of our duties,” Coun. Doug Elford said. “Illegal dumping is quite common.”

“Certainly we need to get on top of this,” he said, adding, “We need better tools in our tool box to be able to manage this.”

Coun. Linda Annis echoed that. “I think we all share huge concerns about the amount of illegal dumping in around our neighbourhoods.”

A corporate report that council approved Monday, June 27 calls for the “enhancement” of enforcement and fines.

“Based on a recent assessment of illegally dumped waste, it has been determined that the types of materials that have increased during the pandemic include drywall, home renovation materials, appliances, and furniture,” the report reveals.

Written by Scott Neuman, Surrey’s general manager of engineering, and Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s general manager of corporate services, the report also notes that the City of Surrey prior to 2015 responded to roughly 10,000 illegal dumping incidents each year, costing $1 million annually in cleanup with mattresses, furniture, household garbage, yard trimmings, scrap metal, hazardous household items, electronics, and construction materials, being the most frequently dumped items.

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The city has reduced illegal dumping and its associated costs by an 30 per cent annually, on average, by streamlining operations, hosting drop-off events offering Surrey residents free disposal of large items and renovation materials, updating the Large Item Pickup Program (“LIPU”) and implementing it at apartment buildings, and launching the Love Where You Live Campaign to encourage community cleanups. “However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, illegal dumping has increased by approximately 15 per cent,” the report states.

The City of Surrey has been limited to issuing fines under the Waste Management Regulations and Charges to people “directly involved” in illegal dumping, such as a driver. City staff recommended that the bylaw be expanded to prohibit “an owner, registered owner, lessee or operator of a vehicle from causing, permitting, or otherwise allowing their vehicle to be used for illegal dumping.” Also, city staff recommend to council that that commercial waste dumpsters at businesses be locked at all times “when not used by the owner.”

These provisions, Neuman and Costanzo note, will “help prevent scattered garbage from falling onto city property while also preventing access to the contents of the dumpster. These measures will also help with reducing illegal dumping and unwanted activity on the property. Enforcement of the provisions would occur at businesses that are consistently non-compliant.”

Meantime, a new Central Surrey Recycling and Waste Centre at 6711 – 154 Street is expected to open this summer to provide residents and businesses with a year-round place to drop off recycling and garbage.

“The facility will have a pivotal role in reducing illegal dumping and diverting waste from the landfill,” Neuman and Costanzo advised council. Mattresses, electronic equipment, drywall, furniture, appliances, paint, textiles, books, and “green waste” will be accepted there.

Coun. Mandeep Nagra asked staff to add video surveillance cameras to “some of our frequent sites, so that will make it easier for the bylaw department to catch those guys.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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