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Monday Jun 4th - 2012
April 21st, 2012: GUELPH — Rob Orobono is fed up with walking through the city’s green spaces and seeing piles of garbage.
Over the last two years, the amount of trash ending up along the trails and parks in the south end has increased tremendously, he said, and not just candy wrappers and plastic bags.
“There was a computer one time, there were chairs, there were broken tables,” he said, speaking about Gosling Gardens Park, near his house. “Everyone treats it like it’s their personal dumping zone.”
Orobono said he and his wife would take walks with their dog on the trails near their house and find all kinds of junk, from discarded furniture to other large items resting just off the path.
“It’s absolutely pathetic,” Orobono said. “It’s gotten out of control.”
Murray Cameron, the city’s manager of parks and greenways, said there are a number of hotspots around the city that seem to collect a large amount of garbage, and Gosling Gardens is one of them.
“It’s been a target of ours for the last two or three years,” he said, adding the area is currently being patrolled by bylaw officers. When a dumping of garbage is found, he said city staff are to examine the individual pieces of trash in hopes of identifying who it belongs to.
Larger items such as furniture and electronics, however, are rarely disposed of with an address or postal code.
“Staff are very frustrated with this,” Cameron said. “We can empty a can one morning and it will be overflowing in the afternoon because of illegal disposal of waste.”
In an effort to discourage people from dumping the large items at Gosling Gardens, the city removed the garbage can from the park’s entrance. But people continued to dump their waste, putting it where the bin once was.
Cameron said the city hasn’t received an increase in calls regarding the amount of dumping; the amount seen in the parks has remained consistent over the past five years.
Francesco Leri, a resident living on the north end of Preservation Park, also has concerns with the amount of illegal dumping along the trails. He said while walking his dog, he came across large pieces of old carpet left at the foot of a small pond at in the conservation area.
He said acts like this frustrate him, and make his efforts to do something for the environment seem pointless.
“Why would I go and buy a fuel efficient car, and then in my backyard I have people that dump stuff that is toxic?” he said. “What’s the point?”
Leri, a psychology professor at the University of Guelph, said both the city and residents have to work together to prevent future dumping. He said it is important for people to feel like they are part of a greater community, to realize their individual actions have a ripple affect throughout the city.
Looking at it from a psychological angle, he said he often wonders about the thought process of someone who is able to dump garbage on the ground without concern.
“There must be some psychological issues,” he said. “Nobody will teach you to do that. In fact, they’ll teach you to do the opposite.
“There are too many people who just don’t have the sense to protect their own environment,” he said.
Orobono said the best way to put an end to the illegal dumping is to somehow catch them in the act.
“Rather than spend thousands of dollars on sending people out there to keep cleaning it, set something up and catch these guys,” he said.
He said as soon as someone is caught and made an example of, the dumping will stop.
City councillor Cam Guthrie said he likes the idea of publishing the identity of anyone caught dumping garbage. In a public shaming fashion, he suggested the convicted dumpers should be revealed in the local media.
“If it can be determined and proved that someone is doing that, then it should be public shaming.” he said.
Guthrie said this method of publicly naming the dumpers was inspired by a city in Florida where the rate of illegal dumping has decreased since it began revealing the identity of those caught.
He said he plans to bring up this suggestion with city officials in the near future.
Cameron said the amount of garbage found in public areas is seasonal, and directly relates to students coming and going from the city. He said there is particularly a lot of waste off Arkell Road, heading towards Milton.
He also identified students as a major abuser of the garbage bins in parks.
“If they have a party, and they need to clean up their house, where does the garbage go? In the park down the street,” he said, adding the bins are for the convenience of park patrons, not for the disposal of household items.
Cameron said in order to stop illegal dumping from taking place, residents need to keep watch and report to the city if they witness any wrongdoing.
“It’s imperative that the homeowners take some responsibility and certainly the community at large,” he said. “Report it. It’s sheer abuse.
“We have curbside collection here. There’s a means of disposing of large waste or debris, and yet you choose just to dump it in a park?” Cameron said. “It’s pretty disrespectful.”view comments (1)