A Surrey church is asking the city to take stronger action on the issue of illegal dumping after garbage was strewn about its parking lot late last Monday.
Members of the People's Full Gospel Church noticed on Oct. 16 that someone with a pickup truck and a hydraulic trailer dumped a slew of construction trash on the ground in their parking lot. The refuse included ceiling tiles, drywall, plywood and other building materials.
"There are people that have this attitude, 'To heck with the next guy,' and unfortunately, a big church parking lot that doesn't have a security guard working night and day is an ideal place for it," said John Holmes, the church's board chairman.
The church entrance at 104th Avenue is gated at night, but the parking lot can be accessed from the street in the back. Holmes said no one saw the truck and their security cameras aren't pointed at the lot, but the way the garbage was unloaded indicated it was on a hydraulic trailer.
This isn't the first time the church has had garbage illegally dumped on the property. Holmes said it's been particularly bad this year and that their recycling dumpster fills up frequently with other people's cardboard.
"Just a short time ago, we had somebody take a mattress and box spring and stick it in the front door of our church," he said. "They mean to make it look like they're being charitable when in fact they're just unloading garbage."
The church's dumpsters don't have locks on them, but Holmes said some dumpers - like the one from last Monday night - don't bother to put the garbage in the bins.
Holmes said he called the city, but was told there was nothing they could do because the trash was left on private property.
"It's a principle of something, and then the city saying, 'Tough luck, you pay for that,'" he said. "This has been an ongoing thing and it's a major ongoing problem in Surrey.
"There's a more major issue at stake here, and that's the fact that there are a lot of people dumping."
Rick Bamford, senior bylaw officer with the City of Surrey, said dumping happens with some frequency, but the city patrols areas in an effort to prevent improper disposal of garbage.
"We have areas that are fairly remote and we're checking to make sure that people aren't dumping in those remote areas," he said.
The city has numerous actions it can take against offenders, ranging from $100 fines to $10,000 penalties. Bamford said dumping on public property may be cleaned up by the city if they can't identify who's responsible, but when it's on private property, it's out of Surrey's hands.
"It's not the city's responsibility to come and clean it up," he said. "Unfortunately, the church is correct, they have to go and ultimately clean it up and dispose of it."
But Holmes said the church can't afford to keep disposing of dumped trash, and adding more security cameras or another gate can also be costly.
"It really disturbs me to see somebody would drive in there with a major amount of building material, some of which could be toxic," he said, "and just dump it in your church parking lot.
"We do Nightshift Ministries, helping the homeless, various other things in the community," he said. "We'd rather spend the money there than spend it cleaning up people's garbage."