St. John’s cracks down on illegal dumping

City uses surveillance equipment to press charges against offenders

Josh Pennell
Published on April 29, 2014
St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe (left) and RNC Supt. Jim Carroll discuss photos of garbage that was dumped illegally.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

St. John’s City Council brought an iron fist down on illegal dumpers Tuesday at a news conference at city hall, along with a warning that the hills have eyes.
“We have you on candid camera dumping,” O’Keefe said. “We are watching and when we catch you, we’re gonna prosecute you.”

The mayor continued that there is a zero-tolerance policy for people caught dumping illegally in city limits. Like Conception Bay South, St. John’s now has surveillance equipment set up where people are known to dump garbage illegally.

The equipment was purchased in 2013. Tuesday’s news conference marked the first time the city spoke about charges that have been laid against people caught with their surveillance system.

RNC Supt. Jim Carroll joined council members at the news conference to speak about charges that have been laid against people who have been caught illegally dumping with the aid of the new surveillance camera gear. Carroll said seven complaints of illegal dumping have been made by the city. One didn’t go anywhere and another is still under investigation. The other five have resulted in charges being laid under the Environmental Protection Act.

In one incident, an individual is also being charged under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Canada Post Act. In that case, the Canada Post employee was identified as they were operating a Canada Post vehicle and dumping what appeared to be advertising mail.

The city’s hardline on illegal dumping really began when two locations were identified at the Windsor Lake watershed.

“Back when we found those we made the comment that we were declaring war — we had already started this initiative — that we were declaring war on those people who dumped illegally within city boundaries,” said Coun. Tom Hann, who has been a driving force behind taking a zero tolerance on illegal dumping.

“Until the start of this program we have had limited means to catch individuals,” he added.

So far the city has identified 40 locations where people are tossing their trash illegally, trash that includes everything from furnaces, household appliances, household garbage or even old cars. Within those 40 sites there are even more specific dumping locations.

“We have more than enough cameras to cover the sites that we’ve identified,” said O’Keefe.

None of the sites were identified, but O’Keefe and Hann stressed that the cameras are moved around and that more would be purchased if necessary.

“If you’re gonna put it in the truck, why wouldn’t you bring it down to Robin Hood Bay?” asked O’Keefe, who seemed truly dumbfounded that illegal dumping still exists.

There is free bulk garbage pickup and also no charge to bring garbage to the Robin Hood Bay dump site.

C.B.S. installed surveillance cameras in popular dumping sites several years ago. Since then, more towns across the province have shown interest in the method of reducing illegal dumping.