Litter in a ditch along the side of Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge. Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

Metro Vancouver tackles illegal dumping

New initiative informs residents on how to dispose of or recycle bulky items.

A couch, mattress or appliance sitting at the side of the road to most people is an eyesore.

Yet, a majority of residents in Metro Vancouver consider illegal dumping a valid form of recycling and continue to do so.

This month, Metro Vancouver has launched an initiative to educate people on the proper way to dispose of or recycle bulky unwanted items.

The goal is to reduce litter along the sides of roads in addition to the costs to the community for clean up.

Every year local municipalities pay up to $5 million to pick up bulky litter.

In January, Richard Purdy, with hazardous waste handler Phoenix Enterprises, was in Pitt Meadows cleaning up drywall containing asbestos that was dumped along Rannie Road by the gravel quarry.

At the time, he explained that contractors who do not want to pay for testing and disposal of the carcinogenic substance and find dark rural roads at night to dump their loads.

He said that his company is called to illegal dump sites in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows twice a week, costing taxpayers between $150 to $3,000.

However, local residents, rather than businesses, are responsible for a majority of abandoned household items found on the sides of roads.

In 2016, municipalities reported 37,257 incidents of abandoned waste, with most frequently dumped items being mattresses, furniture, appliances, carpeting, tires, green waste and larger amounts of household garbage.

Metro Vancouver chair and Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore said that 60 per cent of residents have in the past and will likely in the future illegally dump items because of convenience; and that 40 per cent of residents thought it was okay to dump in public spaces because it was just another form of recycling.

Canadians generate around 31 million tonnes of garbage a year and recycle about 30 per cent of that material.

To dispose of excess waste in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, the regional transfer station is located at 10092 – 236 St., also home of the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society.

• For more information, go to wasteinitsplace.ca.