CALGARY -- Janna Lantz Kolbuc and her neighbours regularly find garbage in the ditches and farmer fields. It's been a problem for as long as she can remember.

Lantz Kolbuc is a fifth-generation farmer whose family owns land about 10 kilometres east of the city. She and her mom will head out into the fields when chinook winds blow the garbage onto their land.

Recently the two filled 65 garbage bags with refuge they believe was likely left by someone from the city.

"We’re out collecting plastic bags, cigarette butts, condoms, cat litter, this last batch of garbage was probably the grossest garbage I’ve ever picked up in my entire life," said Lantz Kolbuc.

Farmers in the area say Rocky View County has a crew that cleans up garbage when it can but in many cases more garbage is dumped only days later in the same spot.

Complicating the matter is that the county only removes waste from ditches. The cleanup of household and commercial garbage that’s dumped on farmers' property is their responsibility.

"Not only do we have to take a day out of work or two or three to pick up all this garbage," said Lantz Kolbuc. "We have to use our fuel, bring it to the dump and then pay for the dump fees."

Andrew McElroy farms in the same area and says the city could change its landfill operations to prevent illegal dumping.

"Calgary should be making its dumps free," said McElroy. "Maybe increasing taxes slightly making the dumps free so people aren’t so intimidated to go dump there instead of coming out to the country and causing a lot of issues for farmers and everyone who lives out here."

"We need to change the culture around this and do something," said Lantz Kolbuc. "Anything."

Hire reputable companies

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says it drives him crazy when people go just outside of the city limits and dump stuff in farmers fields.

He’s asking homeowners to make sure to hire reputable companies to remove construction debris rather than someone off of social media.

"Make sure you are working with an ethical organization," said Nenshi. "If you hire someone off of Kijiji to take your garbage out or if you have a contractor, ask them to take a photo and email you the dump slip, the payment receipt before you pay them."

The city has seen an increase in traffic to the three landfill sites likely due to the warmer weather.

It has implemented health and safety protocols, including physical distancing, in light of COVID-19 to protect both customers and employees, which has resulted in longer wait and processing times.

The city says it is working to get people through as quickly as possible while keeping everyone safe.

The east Calgary site is now open seven days a week. Saturdays are typically the busiest days at the landfill, Tuesdays to Thursdays tend to be quieter.

Learn more about locations, rates and hours of operation on the city's website.