A growing pile of coffee cups and other garbage littered the ground in this photo taken Dec. 4, 2016 opposite the Canadian Tire on Fox Farm Road in Carbonear.
Carbonear municipal enforcement officer Gord Parsons is dismayed every time he comes across garbage left in the woods.
It’s an issue he’s looked to address ever since coming on board with the town in 2011.
At the time, there were several spots where dumping proved to be a problem — Fox Farm Road, Lower Southside Road and Line Road were among a number of areas cited.
I know that (my sons) have always had a bag in their vehicle to put their garbage when they were beating around the streets. When you’d check their pockets before washing their clothes, you’d be liable to find a chip bag or bar wrappers in their pockets. Gord Parsons
“Not being able to be everywhere, I suggested cameras, trail cameras, to be able to assist with it,” Parsons told The Compass as he shared some of the scenes he’s documented over the years.
Cameras were purchased and installed in 2012, with Parsons periodically moving them as needed.
Unfortunately, cameras can’t be everywhere, so Parsons is also heavily reliant on tips from residents.
“There’s more people catching on and calling me as well,” he said, adding this sometimes leads to catching people before they dump materials.
Last month, an area at the intersection of Fox Farm Road and the Conception Bay Highway was brought to his attention. Strewn all over the ground opposite the Canadian Tire were coffee cups and other bits of garbage scattered about.
“This young fella who called said, ‘I think it’s the guys on the ATVs.’ They buy their coffee, come over here, has their smoke, drinks their coffee, and then goes in up Fox Farm Road or wherever.”
There have been multiple instances where the MEO, who is a retired police officer, collected enough evidence to go to police to lay a charge under the Environmental Protection Act.
One of his cameras once caught a truck with a sofa driving in one direction along the dirt road that connects Fox Farm Road to Bannerman Lake Road. When it appeared again traveling in the opposite direction, the sofa was gone.
He took the evidence to RCMP, who later charged a suspect under the Act.
The charge was later withdrawn and reduced to a littering offence, resulting in a small fine of $100. The initial charged could have carried with it a fine as high as $10,000.
Other times, Parsons has elected to give warnings.
Once while he was parked on Fox Farm Road, a truck passed, and Parsons felt the driver gave him a suspicious look. He noticed there was a lot of used wood in the back.
Parsons waited for a bit before he drove further up the road to found the driver standing outside his truck. The man told Parsons he was out for a pee break. When Parsons asked what he was doing with the wood, the man said he was just out for a drive. Pressed further, the man admitted he planned to dump the materials in the woods.
Parsons took some photos, copied his license plate number and advised him to either drop off the materials at the Eastern Waste site in Harbour Grace or, given it was all wood, burn it.
“I said, ‘If I find this anywhere, I’m coming for you.’”
Once he came across garbage and managed to figure out directly where it came from. It turned out someone paid to clean out an apartment decided to dump the garbage in the woods instead of taking it to the waste facility in Harbour Grace as promised.
Parsons couldn’t prove what happened, though the person who owned the garbage managed to pay someone else to move it.
Signs are posted in areas where repeat incidents have been identified. Parsons reckons there’s also an educational aspect when it comes to eliminating this sort of behaviour.
“I know that (my sons) have always had a bag in their vehicle to put their garbage when they were beating around the streets. When you’d check their pockets before washing their clothes, you’d be liable to find a chip bag or bar wrappers in their pockets. They’ve never (tossed garbage), and they’ve never seen me do it.”