Joy Davies holds up surveillance photos that she was given after dropping off a working vacuum.

Joy Davies holds up surveillance photos that she was given after dropping off a working vacuum.

City, court reconsider White Rock dumping fines

Penalties to be eased for early payment, as White Rock examines court costs

Changes proposed to soften penalties for those caught dumping their unwanted goods in White Rock have been all but finalized.

Last week, council gave first, second and third reading to amendments proposed for the city’s Garbage and Recycling Collection and Disposal Bylaw.

The amendments implement a substantial drop in illegal-dumping fines for those who pay the penalty within 10 days.

The existing bylaw imposes penalties of $500, $1,000 and $2,000 for first, second and subsequent offences, respectively.

In a report, the city’s director of engineering and municipal operations suggests those rates drop to $175, $600 and $1,000, if paid in short order.

Greg St. Louis notes that providing a discounted rate for early payment would be in keeping with penalties such as parking tickets, “and could assist with avoiding the costs of defending appeals.”

Two such appeals were in Surrey Provincial Court Wednesday.

Joy Davies, a White Rock resident who was fined $500 after she left a working vacuum at the Kiel Street works yard last October, had her case adjourned due to health reasons. She is due back in court on June 10.

Wayne Jackson, a senior who was also fined in connection with an October incident, had his penalty reduced to $100, after pleading guilty to leaving mattress covers at the yard.

He told justice of the peace Irene Blackstone he assumed the covers could be recycled there.

“I didn’t read the sign,” Jackson said, referring to ‘no dumping’ signage posted at the facility.

While lawyer Don Howieson, representing the City of White Rock, advised Blackstone that a reduced fine of $175 had been agreed on, Blackstone imposed the lesser penalty after learning more about Jackson’s financial situation.

“If the city is prepared to reduce the penalty to $175… for Mr. Jackson, the equivalent to $175 is $100,” she said.

Jackson was given 60 days to pay.

Penalties for illegal dumping in White Rock were introduced a year ago. In 2013, officials issued 12 first-offence tickets. As of the end of last month, just five of those penalties had been paid.

According to St. Louis’ report, 20 tickets have been issued so far this year. He notes that White Rock residents are receiving the majority – just under 80 per cent – of the citations.

During question period March 10, Davies asked if council would consider a system in which first-time offenders would receive a warning letter instead of a fine.

Maple Street resident Rob Watson questioned why the first opportunity to appeal a fine in person is before a judge.

“The problem is, you don’t get to go and argue your case (at the city level),” he said.

“You don’t get to sit and talk about it.”

Mayor Wayne Baldwin noted surveillance cameras that were installed at the works yard last year make the prospect of winning such appeals unlikely.

Prior to installation of the cameras, the city’s costs of dealing with illegal dumping at the works yard was estimated at “a couple grand” per month.