Province seeks deal on Kootenay dump cleanups
The Ministry of Forests says it intends to clean up more illegal dumpsites like one at Ymir, but wants a more formal partnership with local government to get around landfill tipping fees.
Harry Biallas, a compliance and enforcement officer who has been co-ordinating Crown land cleanup efforts in the area, appeared before the Regional District of Central Kootenay board Thursday.
He said the ministry has set aside about $70,000 for such projects each of the last four years and expects about the same budget this year.
“Typically our dump sites are small and numerous and scattered just about anywhere a pickup truck can go,” Biallas said. “We’re finding numerous commercial dumping areas, and unauthorized use and occupation of Crown land.”
But he added their budget can only stretch so far. While they have received grants from regional directors to offset the cost of depositing materials at local landfills, Biallas asked for a written agreement.
While he appreciated the support to date, “the province is not set up well to receive grants for tipping fees,” he said. “I can foresee the accounts and fees being incorporated into a regional district service to cover the costs.”
Biallas said the province will continue to provide funding for labour and materials, and once larger projects are cleaned up, costs should decrease.
He pointed to the cleanup of the Oscar Creek dump at Ymir in 2011 as an example of a local success story. In that case, almost 240 tons of garbage illegally dumped down a steep bank was removed with the help of Ministry of Forests staff, volunteers, and businesses.
The dumping over the last 30 years was so extreme, it could be seen from Google Earth. It included old cars, appliances, furniture, household garbage, and animal carcasses.
Once the junk was removed, soil and pulp biosolids were laid down and the site was seeded with grass and trees. The regional district provided $20,000 to cover the tipping fees. It was the largest project to date, although there have been others.
“The project was a big success for building strong community and developing relationships,” Biallas said.
Regional directors suggested Biallas meet with the chairs of the three waste subregions to figure something out.
“It would work well if all three chairs agreed,” said Slocan Valley director and west waste chair Walter Popoff. “It’s in our best interest to allocate [money] in the budget.
However, they also felt cleanup efforts should not come at the expense of enforcement.
“We need to make sure those dumping illegally are being nailed,” said rural Salmo director Hans Cunningham.
Rural Castlegar director Gord Zaitsoff said he was discouraged some commercial businesses are dumping on back roads and would like video monitoring set up in some key areas and offenders prosecuted.