Nova Scotia

Halifax business stuck with pricey cleanup bill for junk dumped on property

A south-end Halifax business is facing a hefty bill to remove junk, including unwanted mattresses and kitchen waste, dumped in its parking lot — trash it says belongs to someone else.

Municipality won't pay to haul away mattresses, kitchen waste and other trash left in Formac Publishing's lot

Price says Formac Publishing was told it would cost $1,500 to have the garbage hauled away. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

A south-end Halifax business is facing a hefty bill to remove junk, including unwanted mattresses and kitchen waste, dumped in its parking lot — trash it says belongs to someone else.

As a business, Formac Publishing is not eligible for municipal curbside pickup, regardless of how the garbage ended up on the property.

"We're a book publisher; we don't use mattresses, we don't create kitchen waste — nothing," Danny Price, Formac's warehouse manager, told CBC's Information Morning. 

"It's none of our garbage, but yet we have to pay to take it away."

Price said when Formac looked at the cost of having the garbage removed, the business was told it would cost $1,500.

Municipality can impose fines

Tiffany Chase, a municipal spokesperson, said the municipality can levy fines for illegal dumping but it needs witnesses or other evidence in order to lay charges.

The municipality will also remove the garbage if it's possible to determine the culprit.

"Unfortunately if no one witnessed it happening in the act and there's no security footage, it can be quite challenging ... to prove who the guilty party is," said Chase. 

She said the municipality receives between 25 and 30 calls for illegal dumping a month, and fines can range from $400 to $10,000.

She recommends private property owners experiencing a persistent problem with illegal dumping take measures such as increasing their security or installing video cameras.

"We can use that footage as part of our own investigation to lay charges," she added.

Finding the culprit

Price said he has proof, of sorts — some of the garbage left on Formac's property contains addresses. But he said the business was told by the municipality that those addresses aren't sufficient evidence. 

Formac Publishing's parking lot is the site of illegal dumping, according to the warehouse manager. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

"[The HRM] says, 'You can't prove that they dropped it there,'" he said. "So that's that."

He said Formac is considering installing a video camera to monitor the parking lot. 

"If we can have a licence plate and proof that [the culprit] dropped it off, then the city will do something."

'You're stealing from us'

Price said he suspects that at least some of the junk comes from a landlord cleaning out apartments, based on the nature of the garbage and the addresses included in some of the trash. 

Regardless of where it comes from, he said the illegal dumping has consequences for the business. 

"I don't understand why people do this. Just take care of your own garbage. You're stealing from us because we have to pay to have it taken away."

With files from CBC's Information Morning

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