A pile of black garbage bags lined the side of Metchosin Road Friday morning. They may look harmless, but they’re far from it.
“These bags, there’s been about 60 of them dropped all around Metchosin. They’ve tested positive for asbestos,” said Metchosin Councillor Sharie Epp.
The bags are full of asbestos-contaminated drywall. They’ve been dumped all over the municipality for over a month. On Friday, the latest batch was picked up for disposal.
“It’s a big hit for Metchosin and the amount of time that our public works crew is having to spend dealing with this. We only have three employees on that crew and they’ve spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with this stuff.” Added Epp.
CRD regulations don’t allow municipalities to dispose of the material themselves, a process that Metchosin Mayor John Ranns doesn’t agree with.
“So you can take a thousand kilograms every 30 days as an individual but as a municipality, we can’t. As a municipality, we have to go through a Hazmat company and go through all of the additional expenses,” said Ranns, who has served as a director for the CRD since the 1990s.
The process of dealing with the drywall has cost Metchosin upwards of $5,000 dollars. Which may not seem like a lot, but for a municipality with a population under 5,000 people, it’s costly.
“Whenever the CRD brings in either higher costs or more difficulty of disposal of anything, it ends up being dumped in the rural areas and we get no compensation for that whatsoever,” Ranns said.
Both Epp and Ranns both added that people have also been dumping garbage in various parts of the municipality.
An RCMP investigation is underway, but so far, no suspects have been identified.