| May 19, 2005


Feature article, May 19, 2005

Feature article May 19, 2005

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Unusual Illegal dumping charge laid against Rick Steele

by Jeff Green

Impatience might cost Rick Steele dearly.

Through a series of circumstances and misunderstandings, he finds himself charged with illegal dumping after attempting to do bit of clean up on the Bell Line road near his home.

It all started back on April 6. Steele says he got ambitious and decided to pick up some items off the side of the road and bring them to the dump. He pulled up a truck bench, three car tires and a small truck tire and some other items off the side of the road.

He then went to the Olden dump site to dispose of the garbage. Thats where his problems started. He shovelled loose garbage out of the back of his truck. Then, according to Rick Steele, the attendant told me I had to pay $5 for each tire and for the bench

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Angie Neuman told the News that she told Rick Steele it would cost $5 in bag tags for each tire and for the bench, and that he had to go to the township office to get them.

When Rick Steele told her that the tires werent his, so he wasnt going to pay, Neuman says I told him he had to go to the township office to sign a form.

As Neuman recalls, Steele then said that if he dumped the stuff at the township office, the township would have to take care of it.

At that point I said, go ahead, do what you got to do, and away he went, Neuman recalls.

Rick Steeles recollection of the events at the dump are somewhat different.

He said that after he was told he couldnt dump the items without bag tags, he said, What am I supposed to do now? Take it to the township? He did not recall, when interviewed by the News, that he was told he could sign a form at the township office.

Steele then proceeded to the township office and took the tires and the bench off his truck and placed them on the ground. I probably shouldnt have done that, he said in retrospect.

He then entered the office and talked to the lady behind the desk. I asked her if one of the township guys could take the stuff away. She said yes, probably; Ive got to go talk to Heather. She went into the office, and nobody came back. I waited for a while, at least five minutes, and then I left.

According to Central Frontenac Chief Administrative Officer Heather Fox, Nancy from the front desk did indeed come into her office. We talked for a minute, and I talked to Sandra Clow, who had received a call from Angie informing her that Rick Steele was coming over to dump garbage at the office. I got a form out and brought it to the front desk, but the man was gone.

Heather Fox does not think the entire process took more than three minutes. She then phoned the townships bylaw officer Ken Gilpin and informed him that Rick Steele had dumped garbage illegally at the township office.

Ken Gilpin recalls that he phoned Rick Steele to inform him that charges were going to be laid.

Steele says, By the time I got home, and I drove straight home from the township office, there was a message on the phone from Ken Gilpin asking me to call him. He told me I was gong to be charged and that I could be fined $500. Then I heard nothing until April 28, when I got a summons

Ken Gilpin said that the time lag between informing people that charges are pending and the actual laying of them can be weeks, or even months.

We lay about 15-20 charges each year in Central Frontenac for illegal dumping, he said, adding that the fine can be up to $5,000. Normally the fines are $350 and up.

Even though the process had been underway from April 6, the township could have had Gilpin drop the charges at any time, and still can right up until the case goes to trial.

Rick Steele says he was waiting to hear from the township throughout the month of April to see how the matter could be resolved. Meanwhile the staff at the township office say they were waiting to hear from Rick Steele.

Township staff removed the tires and the bench about a week after they were left at the township office.

Heather Fox said the township encourages people to help clean up the township through their Adopt-A-Road program, and We have a policy in place for people who decide to pick up litter to come to the township office and get a letter that says what they have picked up at the side of the road so the dump attendant can let them dump the garbage. The letter then comes back to the office. For obvious reasons we cant allow people to go directly to the dumps and dump garbage without bag tags.

The case against Rick Steele came to Kingston Provincial Court in the first week of May. It was adjourned until June 2. Tony Cuthbertson from Rural Legal Services is handling the case for Rick Steele.

I cant afford a $500 fine, Steele says.

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