Landfill blockade sparks concern about illegal dumping
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The closure of the City of Winnipeg’s only active landfill, which is blocked by activists who demand a search for human remains, has sparked concerns people will resort to illegally dumping garbage in and around the city.
Trucks carrying city waste, commercial operators and Winnipeggers with loads of garbage or recycling have been forced to go to different sites while the Brady Road landfill and 4R depot are off-limits.
“It’s certainly a concern people will start,” Coun. Brian Mayes, chair of the city’s water, waste and environment committee, said of illegal dumping.
He hasn’t been made aware of any incidents or complaints.
Costs related to the landfill’s closure are still being calculated, said city spokesman David Driedger.
The site is on Winnipeg’s southwestern boundary with the Rural Municipality of Macdonald, where illegal dumping is always a concern, said Reeve Brad Erb.
“I would say it’s heightened (amid the blockade), with people trying to find alternative places to dump,” said Erb.
Brady Road has been closed to the public since advocates for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people set up a blockade and camp on Dec. 18.
Critical work, including the removal of leachate, a toxic liquid that filters through solid waste, continues at the site, said Mayes.
Calls for searches of Brady Road and the privately owned Prairie Green Landfill, just north of Winnipeg, began Dec. 1, when police announced more charges had been laid against an alleged serial killer.
When a one-day blockade happened at Brady Road on Dec. 11, some disgruntled landfill users dumped their waste on the side of the road after being turned away.
It’s illegal to dump garbage on any street, public place or private property, Driedger said.
The fines for large-scale dumping are $2,000 for an individual and $4,000 for a company. The fines are halved if paid early.
People who witness illegal dumping should call 311 to file a report and provide photo or video evidence, if available, said Driedger.
This year, the city has received 74 complaints, up from 52 last year. There were 85 reports in 2020.
Data provided by the city does not show evidence of a spike in incidents since the blockade began.
Dridger said 4R depots on Panet Road and Pacific Avenue are open.
If needed, residents can request an extra garbage or large item pickup, or find a private landfill that accepts residential waste.
Commercial customers should contact private landfills to make arrangements while Brady Road is closed, said Driedger.
Mayes, the councillor for St. Vital, said he hoped the blockade can be resolved through talks between the city and the activists.
“We don’t have another landfill in the city. We’ve got to get this resolved,” said Mayes, who isn’t involved in discussions. “It can’t go on forever. Hopefully, something can be pieced together that satisfies them, and we can get back to work.”
The city has enacted contingency plans to avoid disruption to garbage and recycling collection while Brady Road is closed, but it refuses to disclose the measures, citing security concerns.
Mayes identified Prairie Green and a site in the Rural Municipality of Ritchot as possible alternatives.
Operations at Prairie Green were temporarily paused in December amid discussions about searches.
Police believe the remains of Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26, are there.
Remains belonging to Rebecca Contois, 24, were found in a North Kildonan garbage bin and a section of Brady Road in the spring.
Jeremy Skibicki, 35, is accused of killing the women, along with an unidentified victim who’s been named Buffalo Woman by Indigenous elders.
He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.