Algonquin Highlands, ON – The OPP is being asked to increase patrols at a Township of Algonquin Highlands landfill site after recent incidents.

In a post on the municipal website, a statement reads in part, “Sadly, incidents of worker harassment have been on the rise, particularly at our Waste Disposal Sites. There have been increased incidents of illegal dumping, failure to pay applicable fees, dumping without authorization, damage to property, theft, and other by-law infractions. In an increasing number of situations, attempts by landfill workers to manage these situations are met with verbal abuse, harassment and threats. This is unacceptable.”

Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffat posted about the incident on Facebook, noting “Well this sure is a sad day. What’s wrong with people?”

The mayor is alluding to recent incidents where people are attempting to illegally dump and getting into confrontations with front-line workers.

“There have been increased incidents of illegal dumping, failure to pay applicable fees, dumping without authorization, damage to property, theft, and other by-law infractions. In an increasing number of situations, attempts by landfill workers to manage these situations are met with verbal abuse, harassment and threats. This is unacceptable,” the town statement reads.

Melissa Murray is the Environmental Coordinator for the township. She says they have been seeing a sharp uptick in incidents where residents either don’t like the amount they are being charged to dump, or do not want to pay at all. A third group involve people who have brought material in that has been refused because it contains banned materials or it is a mixed load.

“We have incidences of dump and dash, they don’t want to pay a fee or people do not want to wait to have their load assessed,” she explained. “Or they have unapproved materials that are prohibited at the site. You can’t bring material in opaque (dark) bags, we’ve got to be able to see what you are bringing in.”

It was getting to the point that the contractors working at the landfill site were beginning to feel unsafe and police were called on a number of occasions.

Incidents were being reported at all five landfill locations in the area. They include Maple Lake, Hawk Lake, Pine Springs, Oxtongue Lake landfills and the Dorest Transfer Station.

“It was time to address that as a whole,” said Murray. “The OPP said they would be happy to support (us) and increase the level of patrols in the area (of landfill sites) to help let people know this isn’t acceptable behaviour.”

She said people are dumping at the gates to avoid charges as well, but a typical vehicle with household waste likely wouldn’t incur any charges. The system is based on estimated yardage of material being brought in. There are no scales.

Currently, there are no cameras in place but staff are being encouraged to take photos or videos of people behaving badly at the facility and incidents will be investigated.

While the majority of the issues have been about how and what people bring in to dump, some of the problems are related to people stealing recyclable materials such as metal.

“Removing materials from the site unauthorized that can be considered theft,” she said.

Murray said in speaking with her counterparts in neighbouring areas theirs is not an isolated issue.

“We are hearing about it happening all over,” she admitted.