A Saint John city councillor wants to set up surveillance cameras at a number of illegal dumping spots across the city to catch offenders.

Coun. David Merrithew said illegal dumping is a long-standing problem and cleaning up after offenders is an expense the city doesn't need. 

Merrithew will present his motion at Monday night’s Saint John council meeting to purchase and install cameras to help catch and fine offenders.

"You'll never solve all the problem, I'm not that naïve," Merrithew said.

"I'd like to catch a few of them and if we make examples and I'm sincere about that, about a few of these offenders, then one might think twice about dumping his couch on somebody else's property."

'In this case, catching them, fining them, and as far as I'm concerned, embarrassing them is a perfectly legitimate way to help curb some of this activity.'— Tim Vickers, ACAP Saint John

Saint John looked into 485 cases of illegal dumping in 2012.

It is expensive to clean up after illegal dumpers, according to city estimates.

Saint John officials estimate it cost $77,782 in staff time to clean up the 485 work orders and it cost $10,762 in landfill fees to dispose of the garbage.

The majority of site collections were furniture, such as mattresses, couches and chairs.

The most common areas for illegal dumping in 2012 were areas in the city’s north and south ends.

Saint John Water held a major cleanup of the Loch Lomond Watershed in November 2010, which cost $12,000 and June 2011 at a cost of $9,000.

A recent cleanup this week at the Red Head Marsh resulted in four truckloads of illegal dumping collected.

si-nb-tim-vickers-220

Tim Vickers, the executive director of ACAP Saint John, said he supports the idea of using cameras to catch people illegally dumping in the city. (CBC)

The idea of setting up cameras to catch people illegally dumping their garbage does have some support.

Tim Vickers, the executive director of ACAP Saint John, a group that organizes various clean ups across the city, said the cameras would definitely help.

"So I think a little extra from these cameras would be a good thing. We'd stand a better chance to catch them," Vickers said.

The community group says between 1,000 and 3,000 people join their clean-up initiatives. He said those initiatives can collect 25 tonnes of garbage.

Vickers said it's not uncommon to find garbage, such as shingles, tires and an assortment of furniture.

"There needs to be something that sends a message a little stronger than just social pressure," Vickers said.

"In this case, catching them, fining them, and as far as I'm concerned, embarrassing them is a perfectly legitimate way to help curb some of this activity."

The Department of Natural Resources’s experience suggests it can be difficult to convict those who are illegally dumping in the province.

The department says it has issued 47 warnings in the last five years and had 11 successful convictions. 

The provincial government collected roughly $4,000 in fines from illegal dumping between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2013.

Fines for illegal dumping can range from $500 to $20,500 for individuals and from $1,000 to $1 million for companies.