While the City of Langford is seeing a slight decline in illegal garbage dumping, it remains an issue, especially with disposal fees on the rise.
Combined with a rise in the volume of solid waste being removed from the West Shore, and an increase in sorting fees due to the Capital Regional District kitchen scraps ban the situation has City staff requesting that council rethink at least some of their budget for waste removal.
In the past, dealing with illegal dumping, from old couches and TVs to household garbage, has cost the City over $20,000 a year. But a recent staff report on the matter stated that with bylaw enforcement efforts and having staff collect the dumped material instead of contractors, the City has reduced that to between $12,000 and $15,000 a year.
Currently, $15,000 is budgeted annually for dealing with illegal dumping, which the report calls manageable, but it doesn’t allow for the purchase of more bins and receptacles for problem areas.
“Generally it’s getting way better than it ever was,” said Mayor Stew Young. He said the City would do whatever it takes to keep all areas of Langford looking beautiful.
Garbage disposal is costing the City more money due to the ban on kitchen scraps that took effect earlier in the year. Haulers, contracted by the City, are responsible to ensure that no organic waste is included in regular garbage and have increased their tipping fees to reflect the extra sorting required.
The Capital Regional District has also increased its tipping fees, which are expected to soon hit $140 per tonne, up from $90. This rise is partially attributed to a change in CRD subsidies, which cost jurisdictions such as Langford more money.
Those fees could have a big impact on budgets. The Langford staff report stated that the tonnage of garbage collected from the West Shore has nearly doubled in recent years, a fact attributed to the growing population.
One of the City’s contractors, Victoria Contracting and Municipal Maintenance Corp., sent a letter requesting an increase of more than $16,000, or roughly 21 per cent, given the extra service required for overflowing city receptacles. Langford spends almost $76,000 annually in its roads and maintenance contract for servicing and disposing of waste in City-owned cans.
Victoria Contracting tracked the amount of cans it services for a month. It found that 88 of 156 cans contained bags of residential garbage and 76 of those cans were overflowing, often causing garbage to get strewn about by animals.
George Henshall, Langford’s manager of public works, said word is spreading that the City is cracking down on illegal dumping.
“We’ve actually been going through garbage and finding them,” he said of the people caught illegally dumping. Once perpetrators are found, the City requires them to pay for the cleanup costs.
In terms of dumping waste in rural areas that have historically been problem areas, Henshall said, “of the (people) we have caught, none of them are from Langford.”
The City tries hard to clean up dumped items as quickly as possible, he said. If something like a unwanted couch is left sitting for an extended period of time in a rural area, he said, suddenly there would be a coffee table and two television sets with it. The end of the month is especially bad, he said, pointing to people moving as a prime reason.
He also attributed some of the decline in illegal dumping – defined as the depositing of garbage or unwanted items on any open land – to actions taken by the City. These include setting up cameras in problem areas, such as along Finlayson Arm Road near the Goldstream Park, and having City staff members collect waste, instead of contracting it out, from bins provided in areas such as the one by the Luxton fairgrounds.
Henshall said city residents have been requesting more garbage cans and staff are looking to council for more direction on the issue.
Young said the City has added more receptacles over the past 10 years to match its beautification program.
“If you don’t have the receptacles it’ll end up on the ground. I hate seeing garbage on the sidewalks.”