Fraser-Fort George Regional District directors approved Thursday a strategy to reduce illegal dumping that puts a strong emphasis on making residents aware that there are better options.
Signage and an education campaign should be ready to go by this spring, FFGRD waste diversion program leader Rachael Ryder said after providing a presentation to directors.
The strategy puts a particular emphasis on education and will work to let people know that many of the items found are actually accepted at many FFGRD facilities at no cost.
Ryder noted an instance someone had dug a hole 20 feet deep to bury 4,000 litres of used oil despite the fact the nearby Mackenzie landfill accepts the material for recycling.
"Used oil, paint, tires, electronics and cardboard are commonly found in illegal dumping sites but they are all part of well established EPR (extended producer responsibility) programs," Ryder told directors.
Types of material the FFGRD will be accept at no cost will continue to grow, she added, and noted appliances containing refridgerants - described as ozone-depleting substances - will be added to the list starting in January.
Through an EPR program, the customer is charged a recycling fee at the point of first purchase which the producer, in turn, uses to cover the cost of handling the item once it has ended its useful life and is hauled off to a depot.
Ryder also noted that the Miworth transfer station has become a "hot spot" for illegal dumping of large items like furniture because it is one of only two transfer stations that are not staffed. During 2017-18, staff had to carry out 23 cleanups at the site, retrieving 4,450 kilograms of refuse not meant for the facility in the process.
She said it's become a sore spot not only for the FFGRD but for Miworth residents who have taken care to use the facility in a proper manner only to see people from outside that community abuse it, despite the fact most of the items can be dropped off at the Foothills landfill for a nominal fee.
For loads no larger than 100 kilograms, the landfill charges $6, she noted.
People seem willing to respond when made aware of opportunities to get rid of unwanted but recyclable items. As part of this past summer's Junk in the Trunk event at CN Centre, the FFGRD hosted a Do the Right Thing event that saw residents drop off 151 appliances, 1,200 tires, 3,340 pounds of automotive batteries and five pounds of household batteries over a four-hour period.
Ryder also noted that the FFGRD has set aside $10,000 to grant to non-profit groups in the form of waived tipping fees for efforts to clean up messes left by illegal dumping.
Directors generally applauded the strategy while also vowing to lobby for more Conservation Officers to help catch illegal dumpers.