British Columbia

Illegal dumping inspires Surrey high-tech solution

The City of Surrey is using new technology to crack down on an old problem — illegal dumping.
Surrey resident Irma Bijdemast stands by a vacant-lot dump in the Panorama Ridge area in 2010. ((Submitted by Irma Bijdemast) )
The City of Surrey is using new technology to crack down on an old problem — illegal dumping.

The city spent $830,000 in 2010 removing materials like mattresses, couches and old televisions from city land and vacant lots. That's 22 per cent more than the cleanup cost for 2009.

To combat the problem, Surrey has begun using mobile video cameras in areas frequently hit by dumpers.

"Typically [the cameras] would be fixed, but they're mobile," said Vincent Lalonde, Surrey's general manager of engineering. "So we can take a camera unit and move it to different areas and then monitor that area for a certain period of time and see what kind of activity occurs."

CBC News reported in 2010 about a vacant lot in Surrey where tonnes of trash had been left illegally. 

Activity spurred by fees

Illegal dumping increased after fees went up at legal dumps, said Lalonde.

"Metro Vancouver introduced a $20 fee for mattresses. The impact it had was a lot more mattresses being dumped in city ditches and city lands." Lalonde said.

Lalonde said the cameras are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week and police are notified as soon as any dumping is detected.

Surrey has also increased maximum fines for dumping offenders to $10,000 from $2,000.

With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway