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Opinion: ‘Evil’ Burnaby strata fines man for taking recyclables to pay for mom’s memorial

Who has ownership of bottles and other items once residents have put them into the bins?
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Who has ownership of all the bottles people put in their condo building’s recycling bins?

That’s the interesting question on my mind after I was contacted by J.R., a man in Burnaby who has been fined by a local strata council for collecting recyclables from the building’s bins.

He calls the fine an “evil” move. I’m not so sure I would go that far, but it brings up an interesting case. I’ll preface this by saying the building I live in has had a similar issue because one of the renters – a university student – was told he couldn’t take recyclables out of the bins. It turns out the student was doing this to return them for money so they could afford their rent (the high cost of universities is a subject for another day but this is just so sad).

J.R. came to the building because his mother died of cancer and he needed to help his father and take care of some family matters. He has been trying to raise some money because he wants to dedicate a park bench in Burnaby to his mother’s memory. He also wants to donate some money to charities that assist people who are battling cancer.

And, so, J.R. started collecting recyclables around the neighbourhood, including in the building. In a week, he had raised $250.

Well, someone found out and fined J.R. $600, threatening to call the police if it’s not paid.

“I called police to make a report and they laughed and they said that anybody can take these bottles,” he said. “By the end of the week, I knew why (this person) was trying to stop me so bad.”

J.R. added it up and figures someone on the strata is making more than $1,000 a month returning the recyclables – and he wonders if it’s a person pocketing the cash themselves.

“I want to know where all that money went with receipts,” J.R. said. “How come it did not go back into strata and our fees also got raised - that doesn’t make sense. And he’s trying to stop me for my mom’s bench and helping others. Wow.”

J.R. has a meeting set soon with the entire strata council to fight the fine.

In the meantime, should someone get fined for collecting bottles in a building? Should residents just leave these items alone? Who takes ownership once these items have been put into those bins?

All interesting questions.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.