EDITORIAL: Dumping case provides hope

The Regional District of Nanaimo flashed some teeth and showed taxpayers this area finally has a bylaw that appears to have some bite.

We say appears, because while the RDN laid illegal dumping charges against two residents under its Waste Stream Management Licensing Bylaw, it’s now up to the courts to show the bite is more than just a nibble.

The maximum fine is $200,000, though even the most optimistic person would have trouble believing that will happen. The fact the two failed to appear and face charges, however, doesn’t bode well for them as the courts have a history of frowning more so on disrespect to the legal system than disrespect for the environment.

But any fine would be a pleasant surprise for the taxpayer who has to be growing tired of toothless bylaws within the RDN and City of Nanaimo and the lack of any appearance of enforcement.

From bicycles or in-line skates on the harbourfront walkway, to dog owners refusing to leash their pets in city parks, the list of bylaws that seem to go ignored is a long one.

Even Nanaimo Fire Rescue rarely brings down the hammer with illegal burning. For the most part, a resident caught with an illegal fire is read the regulations and the blaze is extinguished. One has to be a multiple offender before a ticket is considered.

Of course, like any crime, knowing someone has dumped garbage in the woods surrounding Nanaimo or spray-painted a graffiti tag on a mailbox or in a tunnel is one thing. Proving it is another.

One has to be caught redhanded, leave something incriminating behind that leads investigators in the right direction, or is turned in by a Good Samaritan.

No matter how the crime is solved, the only deterrent is a tough punishment.

Showing this bylaw not only has teeth, but sharp ones, is a good start.

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