Osoyoos campground owner is upset with recycling regulations, staff at local landfill
The owner of an Osoyoos campground said recycling policies at the Osoyoos landfill site don’t make a lot of sense and he remains upset at how he was treated by staff after dropping off a recent load.
Peter Kruszewski, who has owned and operated Tamri Campgrounds on Lakeshore Drive in Osoyoos with his wife Sylvia for the past 12 years, said he was dropping off a large load of garbage and recycling material at the Osoyoos landfill recently when he got into a confrontation with staff.
Staff at the landfill noticed one of the garbage bags had recyclable material in it, which contravenes regulations, and he was going to have to properly sort his garbage or be fined.
“They found two paper plates and a coffee cup in one garbage bag … and I was told I was going to be charged double for contamination,” said Kruszewski. “I was dropping off almost 400 pounds of garbage and I was being accused of not knowing exactly what was in all of those garbage bags.
“I was trying to remain calm, but they kept repeating that if I didn’t know exactly what was in my garbage that I wouldn’t be allowed to come back. The manager also warned me that if I came back and didn’t know exactly what was in my garbage that she would call the police.”
Barry Romanko, the town’s chief administrative officer, said he would not comment on any specific incident at the landfill site, but provincial rules and regulations are very clear that all recyclable material must be separated from regular commercial garbage and it’s up to individual business owners to ensure those rules are followed.
Landfill site staff “are to show discretion” when a small amount of recyclable material is found in commercial garbage, he said.
Romanko said the vast majority of customers at the Osoyoos landfill have nothing but praise for the work done by staff and the new provincial regulations relating to the collection and disposal of recyclable materials.
Kruszewski admitted this isn’t the first time he has had issues with landfill staff.
“The manager can become very confrontational and most certainly was in this incident,” he said.
“When I was threatened by the manager about calling the police, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Asking him to know exactly what his customers at a busy campground are throwing into garbage bags isn’t reasonable or fair, he said.
“My wife and I strongly support recycling and we always have since we opened our campground,” he said. “We have the bins in place to allow our customers to get rid of all of their recyclable materials.
“But not all of my customers are going to follow the rules and once in awhile a few items that can be recycled will end up in the regular trash. Asking any business owner to know exactly what is being thrown into every garbage bag every single day just doesn’t make any sense. It’s ridiculous.”
Kruszewski took his complaints about the treatment he received at the landfill to Romanko, who insisted staff were “only doing their jobs.”
“In his opinion, he believes that I should know exactly what is being thrown into the garbage,” he said. “I find that very hard to believe. I’m running a busy campground and we go through a lot of garbage. To expect me to keep track of everything that goes into the garbage doesn’t make any sense.”
Romanko said the town’s commercial garbage collector, BFI out of Penticton, is responsible for ensuring provincial rules and regulations are followed and BFI hired the contractor that operates the Osoyoos landfill.
If staff notices there are some recyclable materials mixed with commercial garbage, it’s their job to inform the person dropping off the garbage this isn’t allowed, he said.
He repeated tolerance is recommended if there is a small amount of recyclable material in commercial garbage, but it’s up to the business owner to separate the materials if staff notice the rules are being broken, said Romanko.
“The province has very strict regulations in place … and it’s up to staff to ensure those regulations are being followed,” he said.
There were more than 1,500 loads of garbage dropped off at the Osoyoos landfill in May and close to 1,100 in June and “we received maybe one or two complaints” which is a very clear indication staff are doing a terrific job of managing the landfill and working well with the public, he said.
Osoyoos is filled with numerous hotels and motels that produce a tremendous amount of garbage and there hasn’t been any problems with any of them at the landfill, so campground owners should be able to adhere to the regulations as well, said Romanko.
“The issues we have in terms of operating a busy landfill are very complex, especially with stricter provincial regulations in place,” he said. “We have no choice but to follow the regulations.”
Because the regulations are strict and penalties against the operator are strict, some customers are going to get upset on occasion, but overall the Osoyoos landfill is viewed as one of the cleanest and most efficiently operated in the province, he said.
“I can tell you we get a lot more compliments about our landfill than we get complaints,” he said. Some people don’t like the new rules and they get upset and take their frustration out on the staff who work up there, he said.