That “free” couch placed on the curb for the taking could get expensive for the “giver” if a City of Nanaimo bylaw officer spots it.
Nanaimo’s sanitation and bylaw departments are cracking down on illegal dumping, which includes putting furniture and other unwanted items out on the curb as freebie giveaways.
According to the city, illegal dumping incidences are on the rise in neighbourhoods. Couches, old bed mattresses and barbecues with “free” signs on them, left to deteriorate in the elements, create unsightly messes and attract more garbage and are the primary offensive items listed in a city press release issued Wednesday.
Charlotte Davis, city manager of sanitation, recycling and public works administration, said the city is asking all residents to be responsible, dispose of unwanted items properly and call the city bylaws department when they see illegal dumping.
“Illegal dumping has increased by 50 per cent since 2013 and the stuff we’re seeing now is not in the typical dumpsites,” Davis said. “It’s in neighbourhoods … because people don’t realize that it’s illegal dumping to put something on the apron outside of their property. We don’t live in the type of climate where you can put a mattress outside and somebody’s going to come along and take it because half the time it’s not reusable and the other half of the time they get rained on and nobody wants it.”
Davis said the problem is not peculiar to any area of town. Unwanted furniture and dump sites have spread across the city.
A quick query on social media drew responses from residents across Nanaimo who are frustrated by similar incidents Davis described.
Andrea Coombes, who lives on Rutherford Road, points to a love seat, missing cushions, left down the street from her home.
“Honestly, people disposing of furniture on the curb with the “free to a good home” mentality is fine, but after a few days, if it’s still there, chances are no one wants it, so be an adult and dispose of it properly. Or post it online for free pick up,” Coombes said.
Other sites pointed out by residents included the corner of Boban Drive and Jingle Pot Road, Mount Benson Street, Haliburton Street, Old Victoria Road south of Seventh Street, East Wellington Road, Strickland and Rosehill streets and elsewhere.
Illegal dumping costs the city $20,000 to clean up annually. In 2015, the city dealt with 365 illegal dumping incidences, which accounted for 13,000 kilograms of illegally dumped material and city staff spent about 1,500 hours working on illegal dumping issues.
Illegal dumping of items on city property carries a $100 fine.
To report illegal dumping, please call the bylaw hotline at 250-755-4422 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.