Scavengers at Happy Valley-Goose Bay landfill may soon face fines

'We want to protect the public interest and also protect the town's interest,' says the town's deputy mayor.

The town says there is a safety risk when you pick through the dump

There are useful items that can be found at the Happy Valley Goose Bay landfill but the town is warning people not to go scavenging for them. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is cracking down on landfill scavenging, and hopes to be able to fine people who break the rules. 

"We're going to do what we can to put a stop to that," says deputy mayor Bert Pomeroy.

"The bottom line is anything you take from the dump is prohibited."

We want to protect the public interest and also protect the town's interest.- Deputy Mayor Bert Pomeroy

The town can ban people from the dump. 

But Pomeroy said scavenging is on the rise, prompting the town to begin developing regulations to allow the municipal enforcement officer to ticket people who ignore the ban.

Deputy Mayor Bert Pomeroy says there has been an increase in scavenging at the Happy Valley Goose Bay landfill. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The town began making stricter rules at the dump in 2016 after a six-year-old girl was struck and injured by a loader working on site.

Pomeroy said the issue boils down to resident safety and the town's liability. 

"We want to protect the public interest and also protect the town's interest."

Safety concerns

Municipal enforcement officer Gary Bolger said most people are compliant, but some are returning when town staff aren't on site.

He said while people are there mainly to pick up recyclables, they will also sometimes grab whatever they feel is useful — and that can pose a safety risk.

Municipal enforcement officer Gary Bolger says though most people are compliant, some people will come back to scavenge when he's not around. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"Some people will say, 'There's nothing here to hurt me or there's no concerns, I'm being careful with what I'm doing,'" Bolger said.

"A lot them don't realize the risk that comes with being in a dump site [including] the hazardous material that they could come across in closed garbage bags or wild animals that are in the area."

About the Author

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker reports on Labrador for CBC News from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.