Smile, you’re on hidden camera

C.B.S. surveillance getting results: mayor

Colin MacLean colin.maclean@tc.tc
Published on May 24, 2012
A man from Conception Bay South was recently charged under the Environmental Protection Act for illegal dumping. The man is due in court June 19. The charges were laid after two men were observed by a hidden camera while dumping waste in a wooded area of C.B.S. — Submitted photo

The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” would appear to be apt in this case.

Two men parked off a secluded backroad get out of their truck and toss trash from their vehicle bed onto the ground.

But little did the pair know they were being recorded by a hidden camera.

A fine worth a few thousand dollars later and they’re probably wishing they’d gone to a proper dump like everybody else, said Conception Bay South Mayor Woodrow French.

“It’s a dumb thing to do,” French said.

About a year ago, C.B.S. purchased several surveillance cameras to help crack down on rampant illegal dump sites in the community.

Wednesday the town announced it has, to date, successfully laid charges against and prosecuted five illegal dumpers, thanks to the cameras.

“For us, it validates the use of the equipment. ... The other opportunity is to walk the talk for the town in the fact that if we catch you littering, or we catch you illegally dumping materials, we’re going to prosecute you. No ifs, ands or buts,” said French.

That’s encouraging news for St. John’s Coun. Tom Hann.

“I don’t think there’s a member of council that has not received a complaint from some area of the city where dumping has been taking place. We’ve all been getting the calls,” said Hann.

Hann has been one of the more vocal councillors when it comes to complaining about illegal dumps in the city. About a year ago, he put forward a motion asking council to look at following the example of C.B.S and buying its own security cameras.

The research work was done on that option, but it never got off the ground, Hann said Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Hann suggested at a council meeting a bounty should be offered for information leading to the arrest of illegal dumpers. That discussion evolved to the point where the city decided to issue a request for proposals from security firms to patrol well-known dump sites.

The deadline for proposals was May 18. City staff will now evaluate the submissions and issue a recommendation to council in the next month.

When the matter makes it before council Hann expects councillors to have both the video camera and patrol options before them.

Both options have their pros and cons and will likely get results, he said.

“Really, I don’t care. Whatever council decides to do. What I want is to get something going to stop (dumping),” he said.

The fact C.B.S. seems to be having success with its program is encouraging, he added.

“I’m glad C.B.S. has had the success that they’ve had with the cameras. And again, if it only acts as a deterrent, if we can’t solve the problem, but you cut down on the amount of garbage being dropped in the countryside, then at least we’ve accomplished something.”

Coun. Wally Collins, chairman of the public works, environment and protection standing committee said in a previous news release that paying for some kind of surveillance was likely the best way to help curb dumping.

“We see pictures over and over where people have dumped rubbish and building materials in either remote areas or open spaces in our city and this is completely unacceptable, particularly when we have a convenient, modern waste management facility at Robin Hood Bay,” he said in a previous interview.

“The costs involved in cleaning these areas are high, particularly if you have to deal with chemical/petroleum leaks of any kind, which can be very harmful to the environment.”

French said he would wholeheartedly recommend surveillance cameras as a dumping deterrent to St. John’s or any other municipality with this problem.

Buying the cameras cost the town somewhere in the area of $5,000.

Money well spent, said French; despite the fact that it will never put a complete stop the practice of illegal dumping.  

 “Unfortunately in the society that we live in there’s people out there who really don’t care and they’re going to pollute regardless of what you do. But we’re hoping that we’re going deter people,” he said.

 

cmaclean@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramMacLean

With Telegram files