Abandoned RVs plague Okanagan backcountry

RV owners are dumping their old RVs due to a lack of recycling options in the Okanagan

After many summers of enjoying a campfire, bunk-bed sleep overs and board games with the family, an RVs life comes to a close.

Now what to do with it?

As Kane Blake from Okanagan Forest Task Force found out, for many it means dumping the old camper in the woods.

“This past summer season we found between 30 and 40 different RVs and campers left in different remote areas of the bush,” he said.

The non-profit group, that cleans up the forest around the Okanagan, was planning on removing these abandoned campers when they hit a major problem.

RELATED: Forest cleared of 22,000 pounds of junk

“There is no place to recycle or drop off old unwanted RVs in Kelowna or West Kelowna,” explained Blake. “We are currently trying to find a place to dump off a friend’s old RV that was damaged in a fire and no place will take it, not the landfill, or a scrap yard.”

Cynthia Coates of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Waste Management Program confirmed they have also run in to the same problem.

“We are struggling to find a place to take unwanted and illegally dumped RVs. We had calls this summer of RVs dumped in the bush, but we haven’t taken them anywhere, because there is no where to take them.”

Therefore, these illegally dumped RVs remain in the Okanagan backcountry.

“We have taken them to the landfill before but it is quite the ordeal to dismantle them. All the appliances need to be taken out, tanks need to be emptied, axle taken off, the whole thing needs to be pulled apart,” said Coates.

Blake agrees it would be an arduous process to dismantle an RV especially for any members of the public who are physically unable to do so.

Paul Haul of Cash for Cars said neither his company or any others in the Okanagan would take campers because there isn’t enough material to profitably salvage.

Campers contain more wood and other objects such as appliances than they do metal used for scrap.

In the North Okanagan Kencraft RV and Fishing used to take unwanted RVs, dismantled them and sell the parts. However, many of the RV parts are so old, they are unwanted and unusable.

John, who works at Kencraft, said it was really frustrating dismantling the RVs and then finding there was no where to take the frame of the camper.

“We have four of them sitting on the lot right now, all the appliances are out but there is no where to take them, it’s impossible to find a place to dump these RVs,” he said. “I am not surprised people are taking them in the forest.”

The Vernon Fire Department did show interest when Kencraft called to ask if firefighters wanted to use the RVs for training purposes; however they haven’t used the old campers yet.

The Glenmore Landfill will take the frame of an RV or camper but the vehicle must be dismantled.

Solid Waste Supervisor Scott Hoekstra said the drive portion of the RV must be taken out in order for the landfill to legally take the vehicle.

“We will take the couches, cabinets but the wheels, axel, engine and battery must be dealt with,” he explained.

There is no where to dismantle an RV or camper at the landfill as there isn’t any room. Appliances can be recycled but all fluids must be removed.

Once an RV is dismantled the owner can hire a dumpster provided to take the vehicle to the landfill where it will be compacted.

“We don’t get a lot of RVs or campers at the landfill, sometimes we get those campers that go on the back of a truck, but even those must be stripped as we can’t take anything that could be explosive.”

Hoekstra said once the landfill accepted a hull of a motorbike and sometimes it accepts the fibreglass frames of Sea-Doos, but never any cars or trucks.

The landfill charges $65 per metric ton to dispose of waste.

“We know that there is dumping in the back country, but people need to be mindful that they must appropriately deal with their waste,” stated Hoekstra.


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jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

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