'Like shooting fish in a barrel': Good Samaritan receives $298 ticket for taking downed trees to landfill

Some Winnipeggers who answered the call to help remove storm-battered tree branches from yards and boulevards have found no good deed goes unpunished.

RCMP says motorists must secure their loads

On Sunday afternoon, vehicles loaded with tree branches turned off the Perimeter Highway to Brady Road Landfill. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Some Winnipeggers who answered the call to help remove storm-battered tree branches from yards and boulevards have found no good deed goes unpunished.

The city is still cleaning up from an Oct. 11-12 storm that piled heavy snow on a still-leafy tree canopy and damaged tens of thousands of elms, ashes, lilacs and other deciduous trees.

On Friday, Mayor Brian Bowman asked residents to help out.

"If you have a truck, if you have tools that can provide some assistance, lend a hand to your neighbours," Bowman said. "Because we need everybody to do their part."

On Saturday, Bill Peters was among the residents who heeded the mayor's call. The Fort Garry resident borrowed a pickup truck, collected downed branches from an elderly neighbour's yard and made two trips to the city's Brady Road landfill.

During his second trip to the dump, an RCMP officer pulled Peters over and handed him a $298 ticket for an unsecured load.

"This was how I was brought up. You help your neighbours. The city said it was an emergency, the province has said it was an emergency," Peters said outside his home on Sunday. "It's an emergency, so you help out where you can, and that's what I was doing."

Peters said he watched the same officer ticket other motorists who were taking trees to the landfill. 

"He told me he had heard that excuse at least three times," Peters said of the officer. 

Fort Garry resident Bill Peters helped clear downed tree branches from an elderly neighbour's property. On his second of two trips to Brady Road Landfill in a borrowed pickup truck, RCMP handed him a $300 ticket for an unsecured load. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The RCMP said they are not certain how many drivers were fined this weekend for transporting unsecured loads of trees to the landfill.

"It is crucial that motorists ensure their loads  are properly secured before they head out on the roads. Unsecure loads can lead to items potentially falling out, and causing collisions and other dangerous situations," RCMP spokesperson Cindy Luu said in a statement.

Winnipeg corporate communications manager David Driedger said "while it's regrettable to hear some motorists are being ticketed by the RCMP," anyone trying to help must ensure their loads are secure.

Waverley West Coun. Janice Lukes, whose ward includes major arteries on the way to the landfill, said councillors asked the city to ensure residents knew to tie down their loads.

"I didn't hear any messaging," she said. "I'm in the south end. You wouldn't believe what I see that falls off of vehicles going to the Brady landfill on Kenaston [Boulevard] and the Perimeter, which makes for very hazardous driving conditions."

The mayor's office did not address questions about fines handed to residents who responded to his request to help with downed trees.

"The mayor's comments on Friday were asking people not to dump tree debris from private property onto roads," Bowman spokesperson Jeremy Davis said in a statement.

Peters said he does not believe the tickets are fair.

"There's still a lot of trees down. There's still a lot of trees broken branches hanging in the air, precariously, that need to be cut down and  that need to be moved," he said.

"I know the city is doing its part and the province is doing its part to try and get it done, but it's a massive job and it's going to rely on a lot of people like me to help out their neighbours and take this stuff to the Brady landfill," he said.

"And if they're going to be met [by police], you know it's like shooting fish in a barrel there."

Peters said he plans to fight the ticket, both because it was unfair and because he said his load was, in fact, secure.

He said he learned how to secure trees from his father, who worked as a hydro lineman.

"I can afford the ticket, but there's a lot of people who won't be able to afford a $300 ticket," he said. "That's a lot of money and I'm not just going to pay it."

Work continues to clean up after thousands of Winnipeg trees were damaged in an Oct. 10-11 snowstorm. (Trevor Brine/CBC)


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