The Fraser Valley Illegal Dumping Alliance formed last fall to fight the rampant garbage dumping that threatens local watersheds.
And it's working.
A Chilliwack man was charged under provincial regulations, said conservation officer Steven Jacobi with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, Fraser Valley zone.
"We did charge someone with littering in the Burt Brink Wildlife Management Area," he said.
David Wilgose of Chilliwack is facing three ticket violations from the one incident. He was charged as part of an intensified effort to apprehend people dumping illegally in the Fraser Valley.
"We had pictures of the suspect but it took some time to figure out who he was," added the conservation officer.
Wilgose was issued three ticket violation charges for littering under the Environmental Management Act.
The fines came to $345 and the incident dated back to July 2014.
"It took some digging to find the suspect," said Jacobi.
Officers had investigated the suspect a few months before in a different area, and there was some suspicion he might commit other environmental violations along the Fraser River. He became a person of interest when officers spotted items that had been dumped and burned in the wildlife area, like household trash, plastic, and paper thought to be from a house move.
"It was only when we were reviewing person of interest files together that we figured out who our suspect was for the dumping," he said.
Rachel Schoeler, operations and program manager of Fraser Riverkeeper Society, was thrilled to hear that someone had been charged. The Society's mission is to protect and restore the Fraser River and its watersheds, with volunteer driven cleanup events and education efforts.
"It's so good to hear that the conservation officers received enough information to proceed with charges," Schoeler said. "It means the dumpers will know that people are out there watching."
The education blitz has already significantly boosted the number of calls coming in about illegal dumping to the RAPP line, said the conservation officer.
"They have been very helpful in raising awareness of who to report violation to and this has made a difference in our call volume," noted Jacobi.
"We have seen an increase of 60 per cent related to illegal dumping now that more people are reporting violations directly to the COS."
Anyone who catches trash dumpers in the act is asked to call the RAPP line. Never confront or approach them, but let the COS take care of it after recording the details.
"We want people to report these things, but we also want them to stay safe, so we always say to never put yourself in a situation where you may get hurt," said Schoeler.
Alliance members have been trying to get the word out on a broad scale that there's zero tolerance for dumping. More signage is coming this fall for five new locations, with the RAPP line emblazoned on it.
"That way people concerned about illegal dumping can put the number right into their phones," she said.
The Alliance is bringing together diverse groups to fight the trash dumpers, including: City of Chilliwack, Chilliwack-Vedder River Cleanup Society, Conservation Officer Service of B.C., Fraser Riverkeeper Society, Fraser Valley Regional District, Fraser Valley Salmon Society, Great River Fishing Adventures, Woodtone and more.
Here are some tips for making a report:
• always take note of the date, time and location of the garbage dumping
• record physical description of the suspect, vehicle and plates
• report by calling the RAPP line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277)
If the dumped items include hazardous chemicals, unmarked containers or other materials that may have come from an illegal drug lab, again, don't touch any of it and call the fire department at 604-792-8713. If anyone is exposed to chemicals, call 911.