Volunteer off-roaders are towing away derelict vehicles near Fort McMurray. ((CBC/Shane Ganong))

Motorists who abandon vechicles in the Fort McMurray area will start getting slapped with towing costs.

This comes as volunteers are removing a growing number of derelict vehicles they say are an eyesore and safety hazard.

Officials estimate at least fifty cars and trucks have been left in the woods and swamps around the city.

Most are stolen and have been burned. Many are leaking fuel.

Lee Chambers, a retired police officer from Chicago who serves as Fort McMurray's environmental bylaw officer, said from now on the registered owner or insurance company will be responsible for towing costs which can run up to $800.

"We're a throwaway society," said Chambers. "And maybe a couple of thousand dollars worth of fines would [convince people] that maybe they shouldn't dump it and maybe they should just donate it to someone."    

Local resident Shane Ganong said he hopes that by catching and fining those responsible, others will be deterred from just leaving derelict vehicles in the bush.

Ganong, a heavy equipment mechanic and avid off-roader, blames the problem on Fort McMurray's transient nature.

"Unfortunately, that is the mentality of a lot of people coming in here. They're just here for the money. They don't consider it their home. So, they don't respect it."

Ganong is a member of a group of local all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts  — The Northern Offroad Society  — whose members are  building a metal sled to drag old vehicles out of the bush.

Ganong said he suspects many people are dumping their old, beat-up cars to avoid scrapping charges.

But he said the vehicles are both an eyesore and a danger to off-roaders who like to ride the trails without damaging the environment.