St. John’s city Couns. Sandy Hickman (left) and Debbie Hanlon visit an illegal dump site Thursday morning just off Kenmount Road. The piles of garbage were discovered by a berrypicker last weekend who reported the mess to Hanlon, the councillor for the area. — Photo by Dave Bartlett/The Telegram
You can’t see it from Kenmount Road, but just a few metres down a rough dirt track and into the woods is an illegal dump site.
Around a turn, piles of roofing shingles, a mound of old brick, appliances, computer parts and bags of miscellaneous trash lie in heaps as the trail continues for 100 metres or more, the debris piled on both sides.
Illegal dump sites have been an issue in the capital region and around the province for a number of years, according to St. John’s Coun. Debbie Hanlon.
On Thursday morning, Hanlon — the councillor for Ward 4, where the site was discovered — and Coun. Sandy Hickman, who chairs the city’s public works committee, invited The Telegram along as they investigated a complaint from a woman who discovered the site while berrypicking last weekend.
Hanlon credited the woman for letting the city know about the site.
Report illegal dumping
“If the public is aware of it, the public will let us know. And they can call 311. They don’t even need to say who they are,” Hanlon said.
While some of the garbage appears to have been left there recently, other piles appear to have been there for some time, including a mattress that has rotted away down to the rusty metal springs.
The smell is awful, and isn’t that different from a landfill site.
“This is not litter,” said Hanlon, noting that is an ongoing problem, too. “This is totally unfair. Whoever did this is totally selfish.”
Hickman thinks the culprit is likely a small contractor, as much of the mess is used building materials.
“This is probably a small businessperson, dumping these (shingles) after doing a job on a house. And then people see there’s already been a dump created here and others will toss their garbage in,” he said, “Garbage begets garbage.”
The city’s first step is to identify who owns the property.
If it is city owned, or Crown land, city public works crews will head into the area as soon as possible to clean up the mess, but it’s the taxpayers of St. John’s who will have to foot the bill.
However, if the land is privately owned, the landowner must legally be given time to clean up the mess at their own expense, but that process takes longer.
Hickman says there could be a day or more of work involved in removing the mess.
“This is going to take a (front-end) loader and some dump trucks,” he said.
After the rubbish is cleaned up, Hickman said the city will close the road or, if the land is privately owned, force the property owner to block the path.
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Issue has surfaced again
The issue also came up at this week’s city council meeting when Coun. Tom Hann read an email into the record from a man in Goulds.
“Over the last couple of days he’s gone down and taken pictures of two to three truck loads of garbage that had been dumped,” said Hann.
In that case, the man also suggests the city put a chain across Power’s Road to keep traffic out.
Hickman said his biggest problem with dumping is that most people get away with it, as it’s hard to find the culprits after the deed is done.