Council hears ‘pick up program’ may be used as informal shopping

Bashaw, Alberta
Written by Stu Salkeld

A popular recycling or “community pick up program” may be used by some people as an opportunity for informal shopping heard Bashaw town council at their regular meeting Sept. 14.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller presented councillors with a letter of complaint from resident Rob Jarvis who claimed he had items set out for the town’s regular “spring and fall clean up” program but other items were also taken.

“On the Wednesday before the second spring pickup I verbally requested the removal of three items: two exercise machines, one mangled child’s playpen,” stated Jarvis in his letter which the town stated it received on Aug. 15.

“I was told pickup would be Thursday or Friday. I requested Friday pickup as I am disabled and needed Thursday to organize the items, as the pallet was standing between the two exercise machines.
“My request was not honoured. Pickup was made early Thursday morning while I was sleeping. Not only were the items I requested removed but several items I valued, some considerably, also removed and destroyed.” Jarvis then listed an outdoor work table, plastic storage unit, large heavy duty pallet, dead car battery and a round steel patio table which Jarvis described as a wedding gift from deceased grandparents.

“Whatever the reason for this unauthorized removal of my property the town is responsible for the actions of its employees and responsible for restitution in the event of damages,” added Jarvis.

The CAO stated the spring and fall pick up program allows residents to call in to the town office, give their address and supply a list of what is to be removed by town staff and only stuff on the list is removed.

Referring to Jarvis’ accusation that town staff took his property without permission Fuller said, “I would believe it to be untrue.” Fuller noted that Public Works staff are extremely busy and wouldn’t have time to load up stuff not on the list and pointed out most Bashaw residents know about spring and fall clean up and that items would be sitting in the back alleys, her point being that anyone could have taken the items.

Coun. Cindy Orom asked what Jarvis wanted the town to do. Orom also stated she didn’t think town staff would take items that weren’t on the list.

Coun. Jackie Northey noted it seemed Jarvis wanted restitution for the missing items. The CAO responded the town has no responsibility for missing items.

Coun. Bryan Gust asked if the town had heard any other complaints from Jarvis about this incident, to which Fuller responded no, this was the first time it was mentioned.

Gust stated in a situation like this he believed the property owner bears some responsibility to quickly notify authorities that property is missing, and waiting three months is too long.

Public Works Foreman Patrick Taylor stated he spoke to his staff and they told him they did not take anything from Jarvis they weren’t supposed to. Taylor also stated if there were items sitting next to “clean up” items someone walking by may have thought he didn’t want them.

Coun. Kyle McIntosh stated he saw a couple of solutions to this problem, the first being the cancellation of the spring and fall clean up entirely.

Another solution, noted McIntosh, would be to introduce a “removal tag” system where town staff would only remove items that had town-approved tags on them.

Public Works Foreman Taylor stated the service does seem to be popular as some residents don’t have any other way to get rid of some unwanted items.

Councillors decided staff would respond to Jarvis noting it’s been too long since the items went missing for the town to get involved, and also notify him that the town plans to introduce a “removal tag” system for the spring and fall clean up program.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.