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'We are not filling a dumpster in 24 hours': The illegal dumping problem in Point Douglas

Flynn has caught people trying to dump unwanted garbage in her neighbourhood, saying it's almost a weekly occurrence. "People coming in with truckloads of trash bags, truckloads of entire apartments, construction debris, dirty diapers." (Source: CTV News) Flynn has caught people trying to dump unwanted garbage in her neighbourhood, saying it's almost a weekly occurrence. "People coming in with truckloads of trash bags, truckloads of entire apartments, construction debris, dirty diapers." (Source: CTV News)

Residents in Point Douglas say their area has become a dumping ground for the rest of the city's unwanted garbage, and want more done to get rid of the piles of trash accumulating in the central-Winnipeg neighbourhood.

The problem is not new to the area according to Catherine Flynn, acting chair of the Point Douglas Residents Committee (PDRC). "My father was in charge of an inner-city church 40 years ago, and people were doing it then," she said.

Flynn has caught people trying to dump unwanted garbage in her neighbourhood, saying it's almost a weekly occurrence. "People coming in with truckloads of trash bags, truckloads of entire apartments, construction debris, dirty diapers," Flynn said. "And basically just leaving their stuff here and driving off."

She said there are certain perceptions about Point Douglas that lead people to think they can dump their garbage there, something that was brought up to Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham when the PDRC met with him earlier this month.

"He was very kind and receptive to everything we had to say. And the last thing I said to him before we left was 'do you think we could at least clean up the garbage?'"

Since then, Flynn has noticed pockets of garbage being cleaned up and "problem" dumpsters emptied. Still, the problem persists. "24 hours later they're full again, and that is not coming from our community. We are not filling a dumpster in 24 hours," said Flynn.

The City of Winnipeg said it has received 33 complaints about illegal dumping so far this year. 2022 saw a total of 76 complaints, up from 52 the previous year. 2020 had Winnipeg's highest amount of illegal dumping complaints in recent years with 85.

Those numbers don't line up with the amount of tickets being issued. The fine for large scale dumping of garbage is up to $2000 for a person, $4000 for a corporation. The City said it has only given out a few tickets for illegal dumping over the last few years.

"We issued no tickets for illegal dumping in 2021, two tickets in 2022, and no tickets to date in 2023," said the City of Winnipeg in an email to CTV News.

Flynn feels more needs to be done to deter illegal dumpers, such as placing surveillance cameras in hot spots, and putting up signage warning people of the fines.

She also thinks the city should be looking at policy changes when it comes to garbage collection in Point Douglas. "You can't really treat the inner-city like you treat Tuxedo," said Flynn. "So pick up once a cycle maybe isn’t going to do it."

Flynn said the city should offer free bulky waste pickup for low income families. When the PDRC was doing its neighbourhood spring cleaning in April, they had a lot of requests to haul away large items.

"People came out of their houses saying 'we've got this stuff here, will you take it?' and just going 'thank you, thank you, we can't afford to get it removed,'" said Flynn.

She added they also have a problem with abandoned homeless encampments along the bank of the Red River. "When they leave, there is a vast amount of trash left behind," Flynn said.

The City said it does clean up large amounts of loose garbage in the public right-of-way, "The location is first inspected by Public Works to determine the best remedy for the situation, and then the required work is scheduled by priority for clean up by a crew equipped with the tools needed to do the work in a quick an efficient way," said the City in an email.

The City encourages anyone who sees illegal dumping in progress to report it to police. As well, any excessive garbage in public places can be reported by calling 311.

Flynn would like to see a city-wide anti-littering ad campaign. "You don't have to be a genius to see that we have a littering problem in this city," she said. "We need people picking up trash, we need more bins, we need them emptied more often."

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