ATHABASCA — Athabasca County councillors voted 8-1 at their March 14 meeting to have their community peace officers (CPOs) increase patrols near waste management sites operated by the Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission in a bid to halt break-ins.
Councillors reviewed a letter from the commission that stated break-ins at rural transfer sites had become “not only a nuisance, but a costly expense,” noting that in many cases the thieves pull down the gate and posts and generally make a mess.
The letter noted the commission is planning to remove some items that are attracting thieves, like electronic waste, metals and paints, though that will bring additional costs.
It further added that at a couple of sites, waste is being disposed of on adjacent farm property after hours.
“Barricades get put up and then taken down by those travelling either by truck or ATV. The trails are very prevalent,” the letter states.
A motion was made at the waste commission meeting in February to request county bylaw officers to make more patrols at the transfer sites, as the presence of RCMP has deterred some trespassing at the Athabasca town site.
Division 9 Coun. Camille Wallach made the motion to have the CPOs increase patrols near the waste management sites.
Deputy reeve/Division 3 Coun. Ashtin Anderson said she was not really sure that increasing patrols would really accomplish anything, adding that their CPOs had a lot of other issues to address.
Division 8 Coun. Rob Minns said that from the commission’s perspective, they simply want bylaw officers to be more visibly present in the area.
“It’s just to create a presence out there, to show that we’re around,” he said, suggesting that bylaw officers could perhaps investigate pulled-down fences and the like.
Division 5 Coun. Tracy Holland agreed, adding that the more people see the county’s CPOs out and about, the more it might help to curb vandalism.
On a related note, acting chief administrative officer Christa Wilkinson said she wanted to have a discussion, possibly at the committee-of-the-whole level, about what council’s overarching vision is for the CPO program.
“I want to have a good feeling for what the expectations are from the council level,” she said.
Illegal waste dumping
Council also received a second letter from the waste commission indicating that they had become aware of construction, renovation and demolition (CRD) waste being dumped at old borrow pits, low areas and valleys instead of the landfill.
The letter quotes provincial regulation that prohibits individuals from disposing of CRD waste at any location other than a proper waste management facility.
Wilkinson said that although the county’s land use bylaw requires a permit to dispose of CRD waste, very few people actually get one.
Such permits are also required by safety codes, but again, this is not strictly enforced.
Wilkinson said that when they receive a development permit application, they can require the applicant to get a demolition permit and dump waste at the property facility.
“Many of our permits already speak to keeping their area clean and tidy and all that,” she noted.
Council ultimately voted unanimously to accept the commission’s second letter for information.