A disabled Cumberland resident is left wondering why she didn’t receive a warning – instead she received a $200 fine – when she placed her garbage out a day early last month.
Salena Seed says she received a ticket in-person from the village’s bylaw officer on Nov. 14 for an incident on Nov. 8, because she placed her garbage out the day prior to pickup.
Under the village’s solid waste bylaw, solid waste out before collection day is subject to a $200 fine, and can be reduced to $100 if paid early.
Seed understands justifying a fine if her garbage was overflowing or had extra bags, but notes she was simply “trying to be efficient” as she is an above-the-knee amputee and utilizes her wheelchair for mobility.
“I really follow the rules on my street; I’m a brand-new homeowner. It would have been different if there was (someone) who told me ‘Don’t ever do that again.’”
Seed explains she’s shocked at the lack of understanding from the municipality – in addition to having a wheelchair ramp visible from the entrance of her home, she says the bylaw officer who came to her home and gave her the ticket offered her a solution: to pay someone to take out her garbage for her.
“I was just really sad. I’ve lived here for two years and I haven’t had anyone come up and offer to take out my garbage. When he came, I started crying. Why would they do this to a disabled person? I just think it’s wrong.”
Seed lives on $900 per month, and says she won’t be able to pay a $200 fine “for quite awhile.”
She admits that because she is functionally illiterate, she doesn’t read very much, and approached Cumberland Village office to see if she could receive an explanation.
“I was told that they don’t give someone a pre-notice,” she adds, and notes the bylaw officer was not present during her visit.
Mike Williamson, the village’s fire chief and manager of protective services, says because there have been so many bears killed within the village in the past few years due to garbage, the municipality has begun imposing fines.
“Cumberland is not used to fines and there have been changes to a lot of bylaws, and we’re going to start enforcing (them). We passed on (a similar situation) to our accessibility committee, but we only do what we are told.”
Williamson, who lives close to Seed, says despite the perception that bears hibernate in the winter, he recently spotted footprints in his backyard.
He explains the village employed special patrols to keep an eye on garbage, particularly the placement prior to pick-up, and says residents are beginning to understand the risks.
When the patrols first started, he explains, there were at least 30 people with garbage placed too early; now, only about three or four.
“People are starting to understand. This year, no bears have been shot. Last year, there were five.”
He says enforcement officers “do understand that there are people who are elderly or disabled, and we’ve passed that on … we have to come up with some sort of a solution.”
The village’s chief administrative officer says the matter will be sent to their Accessibility Select Committee for review.
“For our accessibility issues, we bring up concerns, look at best practices. Garbage has been challenging for a long time (in the village),” explains Sundance Topham, who adds the municipality was not made aware of Seed’s circumstances.
Topham says the village will hold the ticket until the committee reviews the file and it will not be sent to a collection agency.
While he admits “we’re not experts,” the idea behind the committee is that people can provide information and insight into various issues, to find best practices and to examine any problems which arise in the village.
The committee comprises one member of council and four (can be up to six) community-at-large members, with a preference given to individuals with knowledge of accessibility-related issues.
The committee is also tasked with making recommendations on a 10-year accessibility plan for village-owned public facilities and spaces.