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New Westminster strata dispute over recycling is a tale of two neighbours

One neighbour at a Royal Avenue townhouse complex took a tenant's Styrofoam and plastic out of a flat-cardboard-only bin and sent him a text warning him about the banned items; the other went straight to the strata to tell.
NW strata
A tenant at the Brickstone Walk strata has lost a bid to get a $200 fine for improper recycling cancelled by the Civil Resolution Tribunal.

A Civil Resolution Tribunal dispute over a $200 fine for improper recycling at a New Westminster strata hints at a tale of two neighbours.

Leonardo de Azevedo Rossi, who rented a townhouse at Brickstone Walk at 828 Royal Ave., applied to the tribunal to have the $200 fine cancelled, according to a ruling by tribunal member Chad McCarthy last Tuesday.

Rossi was fined $200 on July 14, 2021 for discarding what appeared to be Styrofoam and plastic wrap surrounded by a flat cardboard box into a recycling bin labelled “flattened cardboard only,” according to the ruling.

He might have gotten away with it too, but his name and contact information were attached to the box, the ruling said.

A neighbour, identified only as TH in the ruling, removed the Styrofoam and plastic from the recycling bin and send Rossi a text, warning him about the banned items.

But the items were in the recycling bin long enough for another neighbour, identified as C, to send an email to the strata complaining about them, according to the ruling.

So Rossi and the owner of his townhouse got bylaw infraction letters on June 29, 2021, 10 days after TH picked the banned items out of the recycling.

The letter said Rossi and his landlord had 14 days to respond, dispute the matter or request a hearing.

On July 14, 2021, the strata imposed the $200 fine.

Rossi admitted he had mistakenly put prohibited items into the recycling but said his neighbour had removed them before the strata sent the bylaw infraction letter.

But MacCarthy ruled that didn’t mean Rossi was guiltless.

“Although this removal corrected Mr. Rossi’s bylaw 13.4 contravention, I find it does not erase the fact that he did contravene that bylaw for a significant time period,” MacCarthy wrote.

Long enough for C to tell on him, according to the ruling.

Rossi also argued the recycling incident was his first bylaw infraction, and the strata’s bylaws required it to provide only a warning in such cases.

But MacCarthy ruled the language in the strata’s bylaws outlined that the strata “may” use its discretion to provide only a warning letter for a first violation “but it is not required to do so.”

MacCarthy also concluded the strata had given Rossi and his landlord adequate notice of the fine, and neither had requested a hearing within the deadline period.

MacCarthy dismissed Rossi’s claim and the dispute.

The CRT is an online, quasi-judicial tribunal that has jurisdiction over most small-claims disputes under $5,000 in B.C.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor

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