Time to dump on the dumpers

Russell
Russell Wangersky
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There’s a river that curves up out of the Goulds and heads back into the woods below all the new forage fields, a river that winds underneath the bypass road and back towards Cochrane Pond. And on a quiet day you can find your way in to it by a series of ATV trails.

It’s a fine-sized brook: one big enough to sport both brown trout and muddies, the brown trout surprisingly larger than the size of the river suggests they should be.

There are more than a couple of places where you can sit across from a bar falls — those curious breaks in a river where geology decides to cross the flow with an unnatural-looking straight line. And always, in the roll of the brown water over the rock, a deeper pool builds along the face of the rock, the sort of place where fish hold and wait for food to be delivered right to them.

On Thursday, there were trout working the surface for what turned out to be — wonder of wonders — mayflies actually hatching in May instead of their usual June. The lunchtime air was full of birdsong: robins, chickadees and, on one birch branch, a head-tilting yellow warbler, watching you with one sharp black bead of an eye.

Sitting there, looking just at the water, you might think it could be the kind of place you’d bring your youngster to teach them to fish.

Well, maybe. More to the point, it’s the kind of place you might bring your youngster if you wanted to teach him what pigs we are.

This is putting it bluntly: the problem isn’t finding a way to go far enough down a road to find trash on side roads up behind the Goulds. The problem is being able to go far enough to get past the indiscriminate dumping. And it’s happening on a massive scale.

Take just one narrow lane back into the juniper and scrub alder: less than a city block in, and there are 17 full or burst bags of household garbage — different kinds of bags, left at different times — a trailer-load of broken concrete, a small clearing crowned at the centre with a torched, full-sized couch hide-a-bed.

There was garbage from a fast-food place at an arena or fish-and-chip shop — piles of brown cardboard chip tubs bulging out through the tears in the black garbage bag still streaked with gravy. There was garbage from homes, the sort of thing it would be far easier to leave at the curb than to lug several kilometres away to a woods road.

Televisions with their picture tubes smashed in. A brown filing cabinet with a series of puncture wounds, looking as if someone had worked it over with a pick. An office chair, black with swivelling wheels, with the back burned and melted in a fire.

Car tires. Lots and lots of car tires. Sometimes whole wheels. A bathtub. Sinks, both kitchen and bathroom. A space heater. Rafts of smashed beer bottles.

These are the leftovers of people who just plain don’t care.

And the fact is, they probably haven’t cared for years.

At another spot just up the dirt road, there are the remains of three cars, clearly trucked in and dumped because they have neither wheels nor engines. They weren’t driven  there. Two of them are big, rectangular 1970s boats and the third is a dark-blue round-topped sedan that’s been in the woods so long that a spruce tree as big around as your wrist is coming right up through the engine compartment. Old enough to have a narrow, vulcanized-rubber-over-metal steering wheel — old enough to have chrome door handles and window cranks.

In under where the hood had been, there was a small metal tag that read “FAS 627 120.” But everything else is gone: the vehicle identification number plate, the plates and virtually any number that would indicate whose car this once was and provide any sort of way to track how it got there.

Even the Internet doesn’t know what FAS 627 120 means — unfortunately, the rest of us do.

It means these are not just people who showed up at the Robin Hood Bay dumpsite, found it closed, and decided to abandon their waste on a side road instead of bringing back to the dump on another day. These are professional wastrels.

You can find the same kind of dumpsites just off the road a little past Gander in an abandoned provincial park, on embankments on the Southern Shore highway, off side roads in Conception Bay North. Truth is, you can find them pretty much anywhere in this province.

Years ago, the provincial government brought in a “flying squad” to deal with poachers, a special anti-poaching unit that was created because someone in the government had finally had enough.

Perhaps it’s time for a squad of trash hunters: people who could haul out some of the tonnes of garbage that’s being dumped in the province, and who could, as they hauled it away, track down enough information from the waste to charge the people who put it there. Hike the fines, place cameras in high-trash zones, lay charges, set a few examples.

Because it’s not going to stop on its own. These are people who just don’t care.

Perhaps they need the particular persuasion of a knock on the door and a summons placed squarely in their hands.

Russell Wangersky is The Telegram’s

editorial page editor. He can be reached by email at rwanger@thetelegram.com.

Geographic location: Goulds, Robin Hood Bay, Southern Shore Conception Bay North

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