A municipality, a local landowner and a contractor found out that it can be costly to cut corners on proper waste disposal when demolishing buildings.
On Oct. 4, 2022, the Town of Cabri, Swift Current contractor Knutson Excavating and landowner Lindsey Kelsey were fined a total of $51,000 in Swift Current Provincial Court after pleading guilty to several offences under The Environmental Management and Protection Act and regulations, and The Municipal Refuse Management Regulations.
On Feb. 14, 2022, Swift Current conservation officers received information from the Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) line that Knutson Excavating was demolishing houses in Cabri, hauling the material to Lindsey Kelsey’s land northeast of town and burning the material at night, violating environmental laws. The officers investigated and found that five houses had been demolished (four belonging to the Town of Cabri and one owned by Kelsey) and the waste taken to a rural property owned by Kelsey and burned.
Environmental protection officers issued an immediate Environmental Protection Order, stopping all work and setting out the requirements to address contamination on the burn site. Further investigation resulted in charges against the three parties for discarding waste, establishing a waste disposal ground and engaging in industrial activity, all without the required permits.
Following guilty pleas, the Town of Cabri and Knutson Excavating were each fined $21,000, while Kelsey was fined $9,000. The money from the fines will go to the province’s Impacted Sites Fund, which provides support to municipal governments to clean up abandoned, environmentally impacted sites. Knutson Excavating also cleaned up the disposal site.
Improper waste disposal can have serious environmental impacts on the air, soil and water, and can also pose threats to human health. Demolishing a house creates many different types of waste. Some of that waste should never be burned because of the dangerous pollutants they emit and the contamination they leave behind. The Ministry of Environment recognizes that costs to municipalities to properly dispose of derelict buildings can be significant, and works with them to explore available options.