City councillors are weighing whether to spend another $165,000 to extend a program combatting illegal dumping that has so far earned the city about $7,200.

Council will decide on Friday whether to extend the illegal dumping pilot project, which has cost about $115,000 so far, until next June. About 19 charges have been laid under the program, which involves using student employees and unmarked vans to crack down on illegal dumpers in the city.

Citizen complaints are down about 18 per cent in the first eight months of Project Trash Talk, said Marty Hazell, senior director of parking and bylaw services. Less illegal dumping also contributes to the image and safety of a community.

But as far as earning money, "we conclude that it will never be at full cost recovery," Hazell told the city's general issues committee Monday.

Council approved the 12-month pilot project last April. It approved hiring four students, one part-time supervisor and one part-time bylaw clerk to administer it, and two unmarked vans armed with surveillance equipment.

It also included erecting 32 "We are watching" signs in the lower city to warn against illegal dumping, and placing about 20 posters on city benches in the upper city.

The result has been "measurably improved conditions" in specific hot spots in the city, Hazell said. And there are spots that need more surveillance.

Conditions around donation boxes have also improved, Hazell said in his report.

Coun. Tom Jackson of Ward 6 said the project has made a difference in his ward.

"We need to keep the momentum going," he said. "I know I've seen tremendous improvements in the east Mountain area."