The City of Surrey is looking to install 10 security cameras to help catch and prosecute illegal dumpers, a problem that has cost the city millions in recent years.
If the project moves forward, the city intends to install the cameras at locations all throughout the city.
“Definitely it’s to alleviate the time and money spent by staff to deal with it,” said Ray Kerr, Surrey’s Manager of Engineering Operations, noting last year the city spent roughly $600,000 cleaning up illegally dumped garbage.
Surprisingly, that’s down from a high of $930,000 in 2015, the city’s highest expenditure since 2007.
Since 2007, illegal dumping has cost the city more than $8.5 million dollars.
“After that (2015 high) we said by 2020, we want to drop that by 50 per cent,” said Kerr. “I think we’re getting close. I think this year we’ll probably come in about $530,000 or $550,000. But that’s a guesstimate.
“We’ve looked at different ways, cameras, in the past but really haven’t come up with anything,” he added. “Our hope with an RFQ (Request for Quotations), is we’ve gone to the industry saying, ‘Do you have anything we can use that wouldn’t be cost prohibitive for us.”
The request for bids, open now through Sept. 6, states “the use of surveillance monitoring cameras will be the most practical and effective option to remotely monitor and target illegal dumping activity on a 24/7 basis.”
“These locations include but are not limited to street, sidewalk, boulevard, laneways, parks, right-of-way’s or other lands owned by the city,” the proposal notes. “The cameras will also ensure that pertinent information is captured (i.e. license plate of the vehicle, image of offenders, material type being dumped, time and date of dumping event, location, etc.).”
Kerr said the city hasn’t chosen specific locations yet, and hopes these cameras will have the ability to be moved around, to various hot spots around the city.
There’s no timeline for the cameras’ installation at this point, but Kerr said he hopes to have them up and running “as soon as possible, but it depends on what’s involved and what the technology is.”
“It’s unfortunate we have to deal with this sort of issue at all, but hopefully the more things we do we can alleviate the issues,” Kerr added. “We’ve increased our large item pick-up program, we run four Pop-Up Junk Drop events, where we get a tremendous amount of junk dropped off. I don’t believe the statement that it’s not convenient any longer.”
This junk drop off events, for Surrey residents only, sets out dates where people who need to get rid of big items can drop them off, for free, at the Surrey Operations Centre parking lot in Newton. Last year, about 100,000,000 kilograms of waste was collected at these events, 62 per cent was recycled and 56 tonnes was recovered by non-profit agencies.
Residents are also able to use a City of Surrey app to report illegal dumping – by calling 604-591-4152 or downloading the Surrey Request App.
-With files from Tom Zytaruk