COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – Did you know you’re not supposed to put your garbage out before a specific time on pick up day in Coquitlam?
A new father found that out the hard way, and is now possibly facing a $1,000 fine.
“I currently have a four-month old and so taking the garbage out every week — and even remembering what day of the week it is — has not necessarily been happening quite frequently,” explains Dave Deveau. “So I actually celebrated to myself that I had remembered that it was garbage day, that I should take my Green bin and my garbage bin to the curb thinking ‘this is great, I’ve hit this out of the park’ because my boy was finally napping in the wee hours.”
That was at 3:30 a.m. It wasn’t until later that morning that he noticed the bins had stickers on them.
“Saying that it was put out too early, it was put out in violation — I think the earliest it can go to the curb I think it indicated was 5:30 a.m. And someone in the city had come up my street, because they write the time of the infraction on the sticker, someone had come up the street at 3:36 a.m. to fine me for having put out the bin.”
The fine? $500 per bin, and Deveau says he wasn’t the only one to have left their cans out at that time. “And I think many people on the street were hit with these fines.”
The sticker says the fine is pending, so now he’s waiting to see if it comes in the mail. Having reached out to the city, Deveau is now waiting to hear back to try and explain his situation — and that he genuinely didn’t know about the bylaw.
According to Coquitlam’s website, you’re asked to “store all food waste, garbage and recycling in an area that is inaccessible to wildlife.” Residents are told to “not set out carts or recycling for collection before 5:30 a.m. on collection day” in order to avoid a $500 penalty.
Deveau admits he probably should have known about the bylaw, but believes this goes a little too far.
“Surely, when we look at the fine structures within the city, it’s a bit extreme. There’s no sort of warning system in place really making sure that people understand the bylaw, the severity with which the city addresses it. There are many bylaws in the city that the city does not address.
“It’s fascinating that this has sort of become, I would imagine, a cash-cow. It strikes me as strange that there is a budget line at the City of Coquitlam to have a staff member out at 3:30 in the morning walking through residential streets to look for this kind of infraction,” he says.
Had the city instead put warning stickers on his bins, Deveau says he probably would have learned from his mistake and never repeated it.
In recent weeks, conservation officers have had to put down multiple bears in the Tri-Cities area. It’s prompted renewed warnings from city staff — including in Coquitlam — for people to be more cautious when it comes to wildlife attractants.
According to the city, Coquitlam generates the “highest call volume” for “human-bear conflict and attractant concerns”.
However, Deveau says his home isn’t even near a forest.
“I live beside IKEA, and some park and Highway 1,” he laughs. “We see squirrels, and we see birds because those exist in the trees in the neighbourhood. But when people talk about [how] this is a preventative measure for bears, I think ‘OK, maybe in the deeper parts of Coquitlam that are surrounded by wooded areas, I can sort of see that.’ But here, I mean, it feels totally illogical in the context of where I live.”
He says it’s “deeply puzzling.”
Deveau isn’t looking for the city to change the bylaw, but is just hoping it has a little bit of compassion.
“My hope is that the city can appreciate that I’m on a very bizarre lack-of-sleep schedule, and it would be lovely if, as a new parent, there to be some sort of warning system in place. Because this hits us hard.”
Deveau is still waiting to hear back from city staff about his infraction.
UPDATE: We’ve now received a response by email to this story from the City of Coquitlam after putting in a request on Wednesday morning.
The city says it’s not in a position to comment on this specific incident, partly because it tells us there hasn’t been a formal complaint filed.
It is, however, defending the fact bears are attracted by garbage and will visit neighbourhoods at night if garbage carts are out in the open.
Staff say the city also clearly posts its garbage collection schedule, and even offers weekly reminders by email or text.