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White Rock woman disputes $500 fine for ‘recycled’ vacuum

Joy Davies shows surveillance photos from when she left a vacuum at White Rock
Joy Davies shows surveillance photos from when she left a vacuum at White Rock's works yard, and the court summons that followed.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes

A White Rock woman who was fined $500 after leaving a vacuum at the city’s works yard is hoping a provincial-court judge will agree the policy behind it is “heavy-handed and mean-spirited.”

Joy Davies isn’t disputing that she left the vacuum in front of the Kiel Street recycling bins – “I’m disputing that I did anything wrong.”

City officials disagree.

“The signage is clear,” said Greg St. Louis, White Rock’s director of municipal operations. “There’s no dumping whatsoever here.”

Davies told Peace Arch News that she left the vacuum – which was in working condition – at the works yard on Oct. 6, during a trip to drop off cardboard for recycling.

Noticing there was a seemingly good-condition infant car seat already there, Davies said she figured items that others could make use of were OK to leave.

While she agrees there was a “no dumping” sign – signage directing where to take reusable items was added later, she says – Davies said she thought the warning was in reference to actual garbage. She said she only learned otherwise when a bylaw officer showed up at her door with the violation ticket.

After an appeal to the city itself was unsuccessful, Davies was gearing up to file her case in court when she learned she already had a summons to appear for non-payment.

She described the $500 ticket as “so morally wrong,” and said she wonders if others who have received tickets under similar circumstances feel the same way.

According to city information that Davies received through a Freedom of Information request, White Rock issued 15 illegal-dumping tickets in 2013, including eight over the Christmas season. She encourages any of those people who feel they, too, were unjustly fined to contact her at 604-910-8443.

While Davies argued that offenders should be issued a warning first, city officials told PAN in December that warnings are no longer on the table – cleaning up after offenders costs too much. A second offence will cost those who violate the bylaw $1,000; the ticket for a third offence is $2,000.

Davies also suggested the city establish a re-use area where people can drop off items such as the vacuum she was fined for, but St. Louis said that is unlikely. Not only does the city not have the manpower to staff such a service, it likely would run afoul of people who simply see it as another opportunity to dump garbage, he said.

Paul Henderson, Metro Vancouver’s manager of solid-waste services, suggested two websites for anyone looking for a recycling facility in or near their community: metrovancouverrecycles.org or Recyclepedia (rcbc.ca/recyclepedia/search), a service of the Recycling Council of B.C. Any item with a cord or battery is now “really easy and convenient” to recycle, he said.

Davies is scheduled to argue her ticket in Surrey Provincial Court on March 12. She said regardless of the outcome, she plans to ask council to have the bylaw reviewed and revised to include a re-use area.

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