Illegal dumping at Yellowknife sandpits 'getting worse, not better'

·3 min read
John and Laura Orchard pictured at the sandpits earlier this week with their daughter, Sarah Orchard, grandson, Nathaniel Loutitt, and family dog, Lucy.  (Emma Grunwald/CBC - image credit)
John and Laura Orchard pictured at the sandpits earlier this week with their daughter, Sarah Orchard, grandson, Nathaniel Loutitt, and family dog, Lucy. (Emma Grunwald/CBC - image credit)

Frequent visitors to the Yellowknife sandpits are calling for the city to do something about the amount of garbage and waste littering the area.

The sandpits, located near the Yellowknife airport, is a recreation spot popular with ATV enthusiasts and off-leash dog walkers.

CBC News reported on illegal dumping at the sandpits nearly two years ago, but the issue has continued to escalate.

"It used to be just small garbage, and things like that," said Stefan Christensen, a Yellowknife resident, earlier this week.

"Now couches and appliances. And now, we're seeing vehicles being left and stranded," he said.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

"It's something that's getting worse, not better, and needs to be brought forward."

John Orchard said he has been going to the sandpits almost every day since 1981 — often bringing his children, and now, grandchildren.

"So many people use it for recreation, walking their dogs, just playing, [and] having fun," he said.

"This whole place is kind of a jewel for Yellowknife."

Orchard hopes the area is kept clean for future generations, but said that he hasn't seen the city make any efforts to clean the garbage up.

He and his family showed CBC News some of the semi-secluded sections most littered with debris.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Aside from wrappers and fast food containers, an abandoned vehicle, oil barrels, stoves, couches and other household appliances were found scattered throughout the area.

"I guess people don't want to pay the charge at the landfill, so they come out here and make use of the unsupervised area to get rid of their junk," he said.

Orchard's wife, Laura Orchard, said that the problem could be stemming from people unable to afford the city's disposal fees.

"When you don't make a lot of money, who wants to spend that money on dumping garbage rather than buying food for your family?" she said.

"It costs too much to dump big appliances and vehicles and stuff like that."

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

According to the city's website, it costs $196.25 to discard a car, $21.75 for an empty oil tank, and up to $85 for appliances.

But Laura Orchard said that the disposal fees were not an excuse for illegal dumping.

"As Indigenous people, we're told to take care of the land, and it's not a garbage [dump] here," she said.

"We're stewards of this land. We're supposed to look after it, and this is how we treat the land?"

City has received reports 

Sarah Sibley, a spokesperson for the city of Yellowknife, responded to questions about garbage in the area by email.

She confirmed the city has received reports about illegal dumping at the sandpits.

She wrote that residents looking to make a specific complaint can contact the Municipal Enforcement Division at 920-2737, and that enforcement action may be taken when a vehicle is abandoned.

"The proper clean-up of items and waste is directed to the appropriate City department or government agency, where those crews actively remove and dispose of items," she added.

Sibley did not detail an exact plan for removing the waste at the sandpits, or specify if crews were currently in the process of removing items.

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