FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Inspector Darryl Struthers from the Peace Region Conservation Officer Service alongside a Natural Resources representative recently met with Peace River Regional District Board Members to help address concerns of illegal dumping and vehicle abandonment throughout the Peace Region.
“We’ve been providing service to British Columbians since 1905. We’re now housed in the Ministry of Environment but we are a law enforcement service provider in the Natural Resource Sector within government.”
Struthers says that depending on the activity going on and the risk to the public and environment, it really depends on where in the government it would be dealt with.
“Depending on the risk to public safety and to the environment, it could be the CO office that initially investigates something or it could be dealt with by Natural Resource Officers.”
When it comes to abandonment or illegal dumping, if an event occurs or if it is a crime site or it needs to be reported, it goes through the Report, Poacher, Polluter Line (1-877-952-7277) and the service is available 24/7.
“Depending on what type the complaint is, if it a serious dumping complaint where toxic materials and worry about damage to the environment or public safety, they have the ability to call out multiple agencies at the same time to deal with it whether it’s spill response, hazmat or RCMP and Natural Resource Officers.”
Director Karen Goodings expressed her concerns with illegal dumping and car abandonment that she’s seen.
“This has been a long standing issue and from time to time, I have called the RCMP to say ‘I have a concern because there is a vehicle that has been parked for six weeks or two months and we don’t know whether it might be a stolen vehicle, don’t know what it has been involved in and so lots of times they will get out there.”
Goodings noted that once RCMP have taken a look and put up tape around the vehicle, it is still left there in the community.
Director Dale Bumstead says that the problem is also hitting areas around Dawson Creek.
“Our bordering areas and it tends to be criminal activity. Vehicles get stolen or they are burned and abandoned and the RCMP does their thing but it seems to me is that the funding aspect of who ultimately takes the accountability and has the accountability to remove that stuff from these areas and that is the frustration I think for all of us.”
Peace Region Conservation Officer Service said that if they can match the VIN of a vehicle to a previous owner, they can force that person to remove the vehicle through trespassing notices. If they don’t, officers can seize the vehicle and bill the documented owner for the removal amount.
If they can’t find the registered owner, the issues are how to get the vehicle removed and where to take it.
“This isn’t a unique issue to just the Peace Region. It is happening around the Province and it seems to be growing.”
The Peace Region Conservation Officer Service says they want to work with the PRRD to come up with the best solution moving forward.