With another busy summer period comes the often stinky and unpleasant by-product of garbage — and lots of it. The level of garbage collection service within the Columbia Valley varies. Within Invermere, there is curbside pick-up for most of our residential areas, and there is also the collection of garbage and recycling bins — sometimes referred to as the Invermere mini-transfer station in our Industrial Park in Athalmer.
Throughout the valley there are other transfer station and community bin areas, but the one underlying theme for garbage is where it all ends up — and that is at the Columbia Valley Landfill near the Windermere Golf Course.
What is unique about the Columbia Valley landfill is twofold. First, it is operated extremely efficiently and the life expectancy (or years left to operate) has actually been growing as new techniques in operating have been implemented. Part of the proper operating also includes measures to control or stop wildlife interference and contact with the garbage. Secondly, there is an area to dump garbage or yard waste or things that can be re-used by someone else (sometimes referred to as the Windermere Walmart) and it’s completely FREE! For household garbage, there is no charge. Only a very small number of specific things like a refrigerator or tires get charged.
Often the excuse or reason for dumping improper items in the improper area (ie. not at the Windermere Landfill, but in some other bin or transfer station) is also twofold: people might be trying to skirt some kind of dumping fee (which there isn’t), and then there’s the excuse that it is just too far and out of the way to go to the Columbia Valley Landfill.
The laziness of not being willing to drive to the landfill to properly dispose of large items is unacceptable. People will drive very far to save on a jug of milk or a litre of gas, and those folks who live part of the time in the city often drive for hours a day between work and family obligations. A few extra minutes to dispose of things properly doesn’t seem like too steep a price to pay to keep this area beautiful.
Two things happen when garbage isn’t disposed of properly.
First, when it is put into a private bin that a local small business pays to have emptied, it costs that business more money because they have to have it emptied more often.
Many people have been concerned about the health of businesses in the area — don’t hurt them by adding to their costs by filling up their garbage bins! Secondly, if a bin is already full and garbage is piled on top or outside, that garbage is then an easy target for birds, dogs, deer, bears and other wildlife.
Not only is that garbage often dangerous for wildlife, but it also gets spread around and then becomes a nuisance for other people and animals and the rest of the ecosystem.
If you wouldn’t open a bag of your garbage and spread it around your front yard, why would you leave it outside a full bin and let that happen to someone else’s yard?
Gerry Taft is the mayor of Invermere and a Regional District of East Kootenay director. He can be reached at taft.gerry@gmail.