Signage at White Rock's Keil Street works yard advises those planning to dump garbage illegally that they will be on camera.

Works-yard cameras deterring crime: City of White Rock staff

Surveillance cameras installed in attempt to curb illegal dumping by residents

Surveillance cameras installed at White Rock’s works yard are starting to pay off in terms of curbing incidences of illegal dumping.

“The garbage is certainly on the decrease,” Paul Slack, the city’s operations manager, said last week. “The ones that we can fine, we have.”

The cameras were installed outside the Keil Street facility last spring at a cost of about $13,000. In addition to capturing licence-plate numbers of offenders, they have facial-recognition capability.

The decision to install them followed discussion last fall – at the urging of Coun. Al Campbell – around the use of such cameras along the city’s waterfront. While city staff determined that particular use could not be justified at the time, the suggestion was made that they could help at the works yard.

Campbell last week, during discussion of escalating policing costs, maintained the cameras are a cost-effective crime-solving tactic.

Tuesday, Slack estimated illegal dumping was costing the city “a couple grand” every month, in manpower to clean it up and dumping fees associated with the discarded items – which have included mattresses, bags of garbage, pieces of steel and unwanted appliances.

“The problem was really out of hand, you couldn’t even bring your vehicle in the parking lot,” he said. “Every morning basically, especially after a weekend… we would have crews out there cleaning it up.”

Along with the cameras, “a whole bunch” of signage was erected, Slack said. It advises that dumping is not allowed and that the area is under surveillance.

The efforts have not deterred everyone. Slack estimated more than a dozen offenders have received $500 fines – including a retired RCMP officer.

“He phoned me and I said, ‘didn’t you see the sign?’ He said, ‘yeah, I saw the sign, I’m guilty’,” Slack said.

Another person was fined after being caught on camera twice the same day.

Slack said he has heard the gamut of excuses from those handed fines but said warnings are no longer on the table. Repeat offenders will see their fines climb to $1,000 for a second offence and $2,000 for a third.

Slack noted that much of what is being dumped can be taken legally to various facilities, and erecting signage advising of those options is the next step.

For one councillor, the positive results bode well for expanding the city’s use of surveillance cameras in the future.

“If it’s working well there, then maybe there’s possibility for other areas,” Coun. Grant Meyer said.

“Maybe nothing for the waterfront for now, but maybe like everything, it has to be revisited in a few years.”

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