Nova Scotia

Sackville Rivers Association fed up with repeat illegal dumpers

The Sackville Rivers Association wants a more permanent solution to the unsightly problem of illegal dumping along a popular hiking and scenic spot in a Halifax suburb.

The environmental group wants a permanent fix for illegal dumping near Webber Lake

Mattresses, furniture and other household garbage are dumped near Webber Lake, N.S, each year. (Victor Fraser/Sackville Rivers Association)

A local environmental group wants a more permanent solution to the unsightly problem of illegal dumping along a popular hiking and scenic spot in a Halifax suburb.

People have been illegally dumping all sorts of garbage for years on an access road adjacent to Webber Lake near Middle and Lower Sackville.

The illegal dumping happens each year, and the Sackville Rivers Association, a not-for-profit environmental group, is in the midst of its regular campaign to persuade the the municipality to remove the garbage before winter.

The Sackville Rivers Association, a not-for-profit environmental group, wants a permanent solution to illegal dumping. (Victor Fraser/Sackville Rivers Association)

Association president Walter Regan said the Halifax Regional Municipality and Nova Scotia's Department of Environment have been good at cleaning up the sites, but he wishes their staff would move more quickly.

Based on the items dumped, Regan said he believes most of the garbage is from private homeowners. 

"I think there's several reasons: One, the cost of disposal, the ease of disposal," he told CBC's Maritime Noon on Friday. 

For example, at the Otter Lake disposal facility, it costs $100 plus tax to dump 1,000 kilograms of material. 

"I don't have any specific answer," Regan said.

Dumpers are going to dump

Some people who illegally dump are lazy, he said, and others don't like the inconvenience of proper disposal.

He said he'd also like to see the municipality issue a permit to allow people to place larger items, such as an old deck, on the curb for pickup.

Residents doing renovations can put out up to 34 kilograms of bundled wood, plus one bulky item, each garbage day, Halifax spokeswoman Tiffany Chase said by email. Otherwise, that waste needs to be taken to a construction and demolition waste facility.

Municipal council would have to give direction, after community consultation, to open a new disposal site in Sackville, she said.

Environment worries

The rivers association is worried about the environmental impacts of this site near a lake, beyond unsightliness, Regan said.

"For the animals, it's boards with nails in it. It's the breaking down of the chemicals from the disposal of the garbage itself," he said.

"A lot of this stuff would eventually wash into our feeder brooks and watercourses, having a long-term impact on that local ground, the local environment and our watercourses."

'Good deterrent is good enforcement'

To prosecute an illegal dumper, bylaw officers typically require a witness, Chase said.

She encourages anyone who sees a illegal dump site to call 311 to alert officers. That way, they can start an investigation.

Although Regan has never caught anyone in the act of illegal dumping, he said he has seen half-ton trucks drive out of the service road, and then later found a new pile of garbage. 

"It's a magnet. If you dump your garbage, I'm going to dump my garbage there," Regan said. "A good deterrent is good enforcement."

He suggested that HRM or the province put up hidden cameras, for example.

"If the word gets out there that if you go to this site you'll be arrested and have to clean it up and be charged, the word gets around the community pretty quick," he said.

Security camera footage can be key to identifying the dumper, but that needs to be installed by the property owner, Chase said by email. 

With files from CBC's Maritime Noon