Prince Rupert city council is fed up with the constant illegal dumping of garbage along Wantage Road and it has now gotten to the point that they want to put up a gate to block vehicle access to it.
“The gate would go in just past the fish hatchery. The reason for this, of course, is to stop people from taking their vehicles out there on Wantage Road,” says Mayor Jack Mussallem, who originally suggested that staff look into the gate idea a few weeks earlier.
Council doesn’t want to cut off access to the backroad completely though. Wantage Road is used everyday as a recreation area by people who aren’t going out there to dump garbage, so any gate would still allow access for people on foot or on ATVs.
Wantage Road used to have a gate blocking access to it until a motorcyclist crashed into it 15 years ago and was seriously injured. After that incident, the City had the gate removed and the garbage dumping along the road has been a problem ever since.
Anyone familiar with the road knows what the garbage problem is like. Entire household appliances such as stoves and washing machines lie rusting in the woods just off the road, there are frequently giant piles of smashed up furniture, bags of household garbage that have been torn open by the seagulls and ravens and strewn all over the ground, even the bones from wild game carcasses. Its not all that uncommon to go down there and find a pile of garbage someone lit on fire and left.
Since 2000 it has cost the city $19,000 to clean up the garbage along the road. The cost of putting in a gate and likely fixing the problem is expected to cost $4,000.
But not everyone is convinced that a gate will make all that much of a difference and that putting in a gate is punishing everyone for the actions of a few.
“We’ll probably see whoever these individuals are moving to another area. I think it’s just putting a band-aid on it. We’re still going to have to deal with those same people,” says Councillor Gina Garon.
They mayor argued that purpose of the gate is to preserve Wantage Road, not fix the illegal dumping problem in Prince Rupert
“I know there’s lots of people – even tourists – who like to drive up the mountain on a sunny day and watch a sunset. We don’t really have access to our waterfront in some respects and I know it’s a recreating area for young people and people of all ages. I wonder if putting up cameras would be better than putting up a gate, ” says Garon.
Concerns over unfairly taking away people’s enjoyment of the road and Mount Hays by cutting off vehicle access eventually convinced councillors to put off making a decision on the issue for two months so that they could discuss the issue with “user groups.” Which groups those are isn’t exactly clear, but people are encouraged to make their views about a potential gate known to City Hall.
“The problem has been going on for years, so taking a couple months to talk to user groups is probably a good idea,” says Councillor Anna Ashley.