Humboldt dealing with an increase in litterbug droppings

·2 min read

The City of Humboldt has been dealing with a litter problem for a number of years with fast food wrappers and bags, but now they’re also battling dirty masks.

“Garbage is a major problem for us,” said Miles Engele, supervisor with Humboldt’s parks and recreation department.

“It’s a full-time job just picking garbage each day and it’s getting worse, especially around the Uniplex from other facilities who don’t contain their garbage. It blows into our fences; it blows all over our trails.”

While no official study was done, if he were to hazard a guess, Engele estimates that about 40 per cent of the garbage is food related including fast food wrappers and plastic drink containers, and another 40 per cent would be masks and paraphernalia.

The remaining 20 per cent would be shrink wrap, bags and other store wrappings.

“I can’t really say what has changed except maybe people don’t want to handle the masks that come off, they don’t want to touch them and let them fly – I don’t know. Obviously someone else has to pick them up and it’s no more safe for them than the people who had them on I would think.”

In Saskatchewan, littering is subject to a fine up to $200 the first time, with it rising to $500 for each subsequent offense and up to two months in prison in default of payment.

While littering is a problem in many cities, it isn’t universally handled the same.

In Toronto in 2014, the city began promoting a Livegreen Toronto campaign with advertisements which called litters as lazy, dumb, lowlife, dipstick, selfish, and pig in pictures arranged as a collage of trash.

In Hong Kong, a campaign was started in 2015 called “The Face of Litter”, which used DNA testing on litter to create a digital portrait of the perpetrators, which were then plastered around the city in an effort to shame those responsible and have potential litterers rethink their actions.

In Singapore, dumping and disposal of refuse from a vehicle results in a fine over C$45,000 and/or imprisonment up to 12 months. On the second conviction, it jumps to over C$91,000 with an imprisonment of at least one month up to 12 months.

Engele said he isn’t sure about a possible solution, but if people want a clean community, they have to make sure they take their garbage to a nearby can.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to try to change that a little bit, and perhaps we need to look at having more immediately located receptacles and other things.”

Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal