Vigilant neighbours catch illegal dumpers red handed

Every outlaw leaves a trail.

On Tuesday afternoon Greg Dipple returned to his Ridgewood Drive home to find drywall, a toilet plunger, paint cans, and broken tiles dumped five feet from his property.

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“Usually small things get dumped,” Dipple said. “This is the first time we had a truckload.”

The improvised landfill on Monton Avenue blocked the wooded trail leading pedestrians to Edgemont Village.

The litter-majors might have gotten away with it if not for one neighbour’s quick camera finger, according to Dipple.

Despite being a “little nervous,” the amateur photographer managed to snap shots of the perpetrators as well as their pickup truck.

The truck bore the remains of a disposal company’s logo on the passenger-side door. The company reported selling the truck but were quick to pass the vehicle identification number to the police.

The District of North Vancouver bylaw department and the RCMP identified the drywall dumpers, who agreed to return to the site, according to DNV spokeswoman Stephanie Smiley.

“Twenty-four hours later when I came home, the same truck was back,” Dipple said.

One of the culprits cleaned up the mess “in the presence of the RCMP and the district,” Dipple said.

A district bylaw officer issued the debris desperadoes a $500 fine for illegal dumping, according to Smiley.

“Thanks to that vigilant resident we were able to take quick action, get the debris removed, and hold those responsible accountable,” Smiley stated in an email.

Saying happy trails to the trash required a “neighbourhood effort,” Dipple said.

While one neighbour photographed the culprits in the act, another pushed the pile aside to allow passage through the trail and a third called the RCMP’s non-emergency line and reached out to the District of North Vancouver bylaw department.

“It’s all about staying vigilant,” Dipple said.

The District of North Vancouver issued 1,300 home renovation and construction permits in 2016, according to Smiley.

“In addition to using licensed contractors we recommend that homeowners request a receipt to show that debris has been properly disposed of,” Smiley stated.

Used gypsum drywall is considered a hazardous material because it may contain asbestos. Breathing in asbestos fibres damages the lungs and can lead to long-term health issues, including cancer. Drywall disposal is banned at Metro Vancouver transfer stations other than those in Langley and Maple Ridge, where it is accepted only when double bagged in specially marked bags.  

Oftentimes drywall is dumped near North Shore roads and the transgressors escape punishment, according to Dipple.

“Certainly, based on conversations with the police and the district, this happens so regularly and it’s caught so rarely this is probably an unusual, good ending.”

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