It isn’t unusual to see bags of garbage, discarded household wares or even furniture lying roadside around Haliburton.

Students and faculty from Fleming College’s sustainability program wanted to find out why.

In partnership with U-Links, Fleming College’s sustainability program produced a new study which sifts through reasons people might dump garbage illegally, and steps Dysart Township could take to stop the problem.

While they couldn’t determine if illegal dumpers were aware that they were breaking laws, they found nearly half of Dysart’s Airbnb listings didn’t mention waste disposal. The students suggested mandating clearer instructions about how tourists can deal with their waste.

“To make waste management really front and centre for people booking online: that, to me, was a really great take away,” said John Watson, Dysart’s environmental coordinator.

The study also recommends signage at garbage “hot spots” as well as monitoring illegal dumping instances and creating flyers to be distributed to short-term rental sites.

Coun. Larry Clarke said he hopes the study’s findings will influence the County’s rules for short-term rentals in the future.

“I think it’s important that if somebody is not stepping up and providing a process for people dealing with their waste their license should be pulled. It shouldn’t be on the short-term rental market,” he said.

It’s not an issue unique to Dysart, however illegal garbage disposal has an environmental and financial impact on the township. Rob Camelon, director of public works, estimates crews spend 20-25 hours responding to illegal dumping complaints and Mayor Andrea Roberts recounted how nearly every morning garbage bags are found lying around Head Lake Park garbage bins.

Fleming’s study compared how municipalities across Ontario deal with the issue, as well as how residents can report garbage being dumped on roadways.

Watson said that information has already helped Dysart improve its own reporting practices. Currently, people can submit details and photos of each instance on Dysart’s website. That information helps municipal staff create maps and databases that highlight areas which see a lot of garbage. Watson said the students and faculty’s hard work is helping Dysart “[build] practices and procedures here that will really help keep our community clean.”

The study is available to read on the municipality’s website on the agenda for the Aug. 10 committee of the whole meeting. Faculty from Fleming College declined an interview request.

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