Posted on 09 May 2012 by Keith Lacey
Residents who litter and illegally dump garbage within town limits are facing hefty fines after council quickly moved to change the current littering bylaw following a community cleanup event two weeks ago.
Town councillors were so distressed by what they saw up in the hills behind the Dividend Ridge subdivision during a community cleanup organized by local citizens Teresa Cowan and Greg Balogh on April 21, they asked staff to come back with recommendations to increase the fine structure under the town’s littering bylaw.
On Monday, councillors voted unanimously to increase the maximum fine for littering to $200 and to $1,000 for anyone caught dumping illegal solid or liquid waste. The fine for littering will be reduced to $160 if someone issued a municipal bylaw ticket pays it within 30 days.
Council made it very clear they are livid with the amount of people involved in illegal dumping and increasing the fines is only a start as they will also be erecting signs warning the public about illegal dumping and potential heavy fines. They will also be looking at purchasing and installing video equipment in certain areas of town, like the hills behind Dividend Ridge, where so much illegal dumping has taken place.
Mayor Stu Wells said the fact the community cleanup resulted in more than 40,000 pounds of garbage collected in only five hours made it very clear this is a big problem in town and council has to do something to try and discourage people from engaging in such irresponsible behaviour.
Coun. C.J. Rhodes said his only regret is provincial legislation limits the maximum fine to $1,000 and he would support a maximum $5,000 fine if the circumstances warranted such a stiff penalty.
Coun. Mike Plante agreed and thanked staff for putting together a report that will make a difference in such a short period of time.
The new signs that will be erected will clearly state dumping garbage is an illegal act and anyone caught will be prosecuted to the full extent of the bylaw.
Wells said he would like a similar sign erected in the Strawberry Creek area, where similar illegal dumping has been going on for far too long.
During his regular councillor’s report to wrap up the regular meeting of council, Rhodes again ripped those citizens responsible for dumping garbage in the beautiful hills surrounding Osoyoos.
The sheer amount of garbage picked up by volunteers during the community cleanup event behind Dividend Ridge was “mind boggling and beyond imagination” and made him very angry, said Rhodes.
“It saddens me the great lengths that people will go to pass off their responsibility of properly disposing of their garbage,” he said.
During the cleanup, Rhodes said he was struck by the amazing scenery up in the hills of Osoyoos, only to look down and see hundreds of bottle caps that had been tossed on the ground.
“To these uncaring and reckless people responsible for the mess up there, I say shame on you,” he said.
Rhodes thanked Cowan and Balogh once again for all of their hard work in organizing the community cleanup and also thanked every one of the 75 or so citizens who volunteered to clean up the mess.