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Battling illegal dumping and beach cleanup

Elissa Hinks and her daughter, Harper (back) help with the beach cleanup, along with husband Joel Hinks (front) and son, Silas (right). – Submitted photo

By Jaymie L. White

Special to Wreckhouse Press

PORT AUX BASQUES – The Sou’Wes Delta Waterfowl group has been doing their part to keep the community clean, and a few weekends ago, during one of their annual beach cleanups, volunteers picked up 903 pounds of garbage.

Mark Lomond said the garbage was picked up over the course of one day in a little spot in North West Cove.

“It was just a beach and about a one kilometer gravel road heading to the beach,” said Lomond. “It was a lot of household garbage, stuff that really should’ve just been put in the garbage box. People just drive down there and toss out bags of garbage, just like they were at the dump. It’s full of used food packaging, a lot of meats and stuff, basically all household items. I’m not saying there wasn’t bulk items as well, but the majority of what we picked up that was dumped in the area was household waste. There was actually so much out there that I couldn’t take it all in one pickup load.”

This year the group decided to avail of the funding offered by the provincial government.

“They had some funding available for cleaning up, and since we do beach cleanups and walking trails anyway, we thought why not get some funding and make it a little easier and it certainly has. We’ve done cleanups in the past, but with the high prices of gas right now, it would’ve been very difficult to clean up as much garbage without the support from the government.”

Lomond said the money covers a variety of costs.

“They’ve supplied money to dump the garbage at the garbage dump, money for any equipment we might need like ratchet straps or rakes to clean up glass, fuel costs to get to these locations with pickup trucks and side by sides on the beaches. It’s very expensive to fuel this year. The funding definitely came in really handy. This is the first year we’ve had the funding to help. We’ve done it on our own before this.”

Sou’Wes Delta Waterfowl and community volunteers try to cover different areas each time they do a cleanup. However, this year the plan is to tackle some of the areas that tourists are going to frequent during Come Home Year 2022, such as the service road and the area where RVs dump their septic.

“There is an insane amount of garbage out there where tourists have to go to dump their RVs, so we’re going to try to get out there to get that spot cleaned up,” said Lomond. “I’m going to try to get the Wreckhouse parking lot taken care of too. I stopped in there to size it up and there is a lot of mess there too. We are going to try to do a few areas for the tourists, but we are going to stick to our routes and keep at the beaches and wetlands as well.”

Lomond said illegal dumping seems to be on the rise, and not understanding which items are free to dispose of at the dump could be one of the factors.

“Illegal dumping has increased since the new waste management came into effect and started charging fees. I don’t know if a lot of people fully understand how little it costs. A lot of the stuff dumped – tires for instance – are free to get rid of at the dump. They don’t charge anything to take them, but people are still dumping them out in the woods,” said Lomond. “I didn’t know it was free to take tires. I didn’t even know they could take tires until we got there with them and I asked if they could take them. Maybe the public should be made more aware that items like tires and metal are free to dispose of. Electronic waste I don’t think costs anything, so there’s a lot of items that are getting dumped in the woods that actually don’t cost anything to take to the dump.”

Lomond said the fines in place for illegal dumping may not be well known either.

“Apparently, it’s $500 to $10,000 for an individual and up to a million for a business or organization, I’m not sure if the fine amounts are known to the public either. I don’t think people are aware of how much it costs to get rid of at the dump and I don’t think people are aware of how much the fines actually are. We’ve got transport trucks on a service road; guys are just unloading their transport trucks, changing over loads and stuff, and they’re just cutting off ropes and will just throw it down next to the truck and go on. These companies, these are businesses and companies doing this, and they could get big fines.”

Lomond said not having the same conveniences as the old dump had could also be a deterrent.

“Everybody used to stop by the old dump, even just to go in for a drive, toss out one or two little items if you just had something in your car. It was very convenient to just be able to pull off, toss it, and leave without having to get checked in, having accounts and everything. That could be pretty overwhelming for some people with anxiety and things too. It may just be a bit much, more than what they’re used to.”

Overall Lomond said it is a rewarding experience for the group to be able to get out there and make the community a cleaner place, and thinks with a little more awareness and enforcement, illegal dumping could decline.

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