Illegal dumping still a problem in Central Labrador

Derek Montague
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Happy Valley-Goose Bay resident disgusted after seeing dump site

A Happy Valley-Goose Bay woman is shocked and disgusted after coming across an illegal dumpsite near the municipal landfill, and she is hoping the community and the town council can do something to address the problem.

Monica Surina and her partner Keith Legge were driving back to Goose Bay on Sunday, June 1, after a trip to their cabin near Echo Lake. The couple usually takes the Trans Labrador Highway for these drives, but decided to take a shortcut by turning onto Goose River Road, known more commonly as the “dump road,” on their way home.

While Legge drove the vehicle, Surina was keeping here eyes out for local wildlife amongst the woods. That’s when she noticed something disgusting along a nearby turnoff.

“So he’s driving, and I’m always looking in the woods trying to look for bears, or moose, or whatever,” said Surina. “And, as we’re driving along, I glance out the window and all of a sudden I just went ‘oh my God what a mess’.”

Along this turnoff, in a wide-open space, were loads of junk and garbage. Amongst the piles are children’s toys, bags of rotting leaves, a baby car seat, stacks of Tim Horton’s coffee cups, a propane tank, and more.

There is also a lot of electronic waste at this site, including a smashed TV set, a broken computer, and a microwave.

According to Surina, the site looked as though it was filled with both old garbage and stuff that was recently disposed off, such as a new looking pair of sneakers.

“It’s just really upsetting, because here you’re driving along, and Labrador has some pretty pristine wilderness areas,” said Surina. “Then, all of a sudden you come across something as disgusting as that.”

Illegal dumping is not a new problem to the region. Last summer, Healthy Waters Labrador, along with members of the Green Team, located an astounding 60 dumpsites in the upper Lake Melville area. The group marked the sites with GPS co-ordinates and handed the information to the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

After Surina and Legge continued driving home, their garbage adventure continued. Just a kilometre down the road, the couple came across the municipal landfill, which was is closed on Sundays.

“As we pulled up to the dump … it was closed and people had dumped all of their garbage right in front of the gate. And there were some gentleman going through all of the bags, ripping them open, looking for recyclables and useable stuff, or whatever,” recalled Surina.

“That junk could have flown all over the place and everywhere. Plus the bears could have gotten into it and disturbed it even more.”

After arriving home, Surina posted photos of the dumpsite on Facebook to create awareness of the situation. She also had a telephone conversation with Coun. Tanya Michelin, who chair’s the town council’s enforcement committee.

According to Michelin, the council is working hard on finding solutions to the illegal dumping issue. In the 2014 budget, $13,000 has been set aside for the purchase of camera systems, which will be installed in common dumping areas.

“Illegal dumping is something that we’ve been working on very diligently for the past several months, since we’ve been on council, in terms of developing a proactive approach,” said Michelin.

Right now, however, the council is in a bit of a bind. The one and only community constable recently left his position, meaning the town has no officer available to enforce municipal bylaws.

“So really our hands are tied at this point, in terms of enforcing the regulations,” said Michelin.

According to Michelin, if somebody’s caught dumping garbage illegally within Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the town would lay charges against the perpetrator.

“We’re going to take them to court,” said Michelin.

“It’s about sending a strong message to the residents that we will not tolerate this any further. It’s not just one area. There’re several areas around the town where this is happening.”

In terms of getting rid of the garbage at the dump road site, that’s an issue Michelin plans to address with the town’s environment committee, which she sits on.

“I’m definitely going to bring this to our next environment committee meeting … and talk about how we’re going to clean this up,” said Michelin.

Organizations: Trans Labrador Highway

Geographic location: Goose Bay, Happy Valley, Central Labrador Echo Lake Goose River Road Lake Melville

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