A man in Glace Bay, N.S., is leading an effort to clean up illegal dump sites in his community.

In June, Dylan Yates started a Facebook page called Cape Breton Environmental Conservation.

The goal was to create a platform where people could post photos and locations of illegal dump sites, voice their concerns and work together to tackle the problem.

"It just started kind of from my passion for the outdoors and wanting to make a difference in my own community," said Yates, who recently completed a diploma in Natural Resources Environmental Technology at the Nova Scotia Community College.

The Facebook group has more than 250 members and Yates has organized five cleanup projects to date.

Dumping getting worse

The dump sites the group has tackled have contained a range of garbage, including contaminants such as oil and antifreeze, construction materials such as shingles and plasterboard, medical materials including IV bags as well as household items.

"We see a lot of diapers," said Yates. "Anything you can imagine is out there."

While illegal dumping has been a problem in Cape Breton for many years, Yates believes it is getting worse.

"I've found lately people are becoming more brazen and they're actually dumping their (trash) on side streets, so it's not just out in the rural areas. It's coming into the communities as well."

Two of the group's cleanup projects targeted Sand Lake Road, a long, rural dirt road that's popular with illegal dumpers.

About 10 to 15 volunteers

"It's pretty bad," said Glace Bay resident Peter McIntyre. "There's garbage bags full of garbage everywhere and sometimes you even see appliances. And it's pathetic, 'cause it's such a nice spot."

McIntyre's father Adie, who died two years ago, used to walk on the road every day.

"My dad actually used to do a lot of cleanup out there himself on his own because he loved it out there, and he would hate seeing it full of garbage."

Garbage with mattresses

All sorts of household items, as well as construction and medical waste, are being illegally dumped. (Submitted by Dylan Yates)

McIntyre believes his dad would be proud of Yates' effort.

So far, the group cleanup projects have attracted only about 10 to 15 volunteers, said Yates.  

"And that's OK. I mean, we're not in it for the numbers. We're in it for the awareness, to try to get people drawn into the issue."

That said, Yates is hoping to get more people involved. He's hosting a public meeting Monday night in Glace Bay.

With files from Mainstreet Cape Breton