As two Minden Hills residents can attest, it isn’t always the case that good intentions never win.

At least, not after a follow-up letter to township council to sway them away from penalizing a selfless act. Council agreed Aug. 31 to waive the costs for Rick Thurston and Wendy Coulson to dispose of a cast-off dock at a municipal landfill.

Thurston and Coulson took it upon themselves to remove a wayward dock from the middle of Horseshoe Lake earlier this summer. Fun weekends at the lake have been ruined for boaters who collide with such heavy often difficult to spot flotsam.

Old docks floating freely, whether cut adrift or having come unmoored, are an increasing problem on many Haliburton County lakes and waterways. Even Mayor Bob Carter said it’s a growing issue at the lake on which he lives.

Thurston and Coulson used various avenues in the lake community to ask that the original owner take responsibility.

They were unsuccessful.

They were going to tear the bit of errant dock apart to bring it to the Scotchline landfill but were wary of it costing them hundreds of dollars. So Thurston and Coulson asked township council in July to forgive them the landfill dumping fees for the dock they removed.

While some on council and staff thought waiving the dumping fee would be a good idea, other councillors was fearful it would set a precedent for future claims.

In the end, council refused to forgive the disposal costs.

And that left Thurston and Coulson with “disbelief and disappointment,” they wrote in a follow-up letter to council for its Aug. 31 meeting.

“Had we been the original owner of this dock, you would have never heard from us,” the couple wrote. “In 2017, when we installed a new dock, we dismantled an old one and hauled it away and disposed of it all at our cost.

“Your decision has made us question what we would do if this happens again as there were no viable solutions put forward in your discussions.”

Councillor Ivan Ingram said at the August meeting that he has some concerns about hoisting a bill on the couple who were only trying to do the right thing.

People who participate in the Adopt a Road program and collect trash from the sides of the road are not given a bill for payment for disposing that garbage, Ingram said.

“This isn’t a personal dock of theirs,” he said. “This is someone else’s property that’s been let go. I think we should let them dump it at the dump, no charge.”

Further, Ingram said, council should allow landfill staff the authority to decide such a claim’s legitimacy and whether or not to waive tipping or disposal fees in such circumstances.

Carter, who attended the meeting remotely for health reasons, said he agreed with Ingram. The wayward dock was a hazard that they helped clean up and, as such, they shouldn’t be charged at the landfill.

“These people did all of us a favour by doing what they did,” he said.


By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Sep 06, 2023 at 10:45

This item reprinted with permission from   Haliburton County Echo   Haliburton, Ontario
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