NORTH DELTA — When 91-year-old Rhoda Andronik got to work last Wednesday, she nearly cried.
Someone, or some people, had dumped a slew of garbage behind Penny Savers’ Thrift Shop, where the senior has volunteered for 55 years.
She said in her more than five decades of experience, it’s the largest dump she’s seen.
Mattresses, a baby crib, broken children’s toys, old car seats and flat out garbage was among the pile of discarded items, which lined the sidewalk at the store’s back door.
Andronik’s seemingly permanent smile faded for a moment – just a second, really – as she gazed upon what she’d stumbled across that morning.
“I try to laugh about it,” she remarked.
“Please don’t do this,” she urged those responsible for the mess.
The store is operated by Surrey Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and is run completely by volunteers.
One hundred per cent of their profits go to the hospital and this is the group’s highest grossing program. This year, they’ve committed to raising $150,000 for an adolescent treatment centre.
The costs that come with cleaning up these messes are cutting into those dollars. They’ve put up signs to deter people from dumping, but it hasn’t helped.
Andronik’s sister-in-law, Karine Pollock, has volunteered for 12 years and is equally frustrated.
“We usually clean it up, if it’s not too much,” Pollock said of the garbage. “But I mean, we’re not young. There’s a lot of stuff there.”
It’s not the first time the store has had to deal with such a problem.
In fact, it was the second time that week alone.
The issue has been getting worse, and it’s hurting.
Store manager Shirley Evans said she’s “banging her head against the wall” at this point.
Evans said she’s gone to police after finding personal information in dumped boxes, but the trail turned cold, as far as she was told.
“The week before this dump, we had five mattresses, a sofa, four kitchen chairs, three patio chairs, a large child’s jeep, a child’s picnic table,” said Evans. “It’s intolerable.”
She said the group is considering putting up security cameras, but said it would be “a lot of money to put out” for the organization.
They may consider going to Delta city hall to ask for some relief.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson was “disgusted” when she heard what had been going on.
“All I can say is shame on them,” Jackson said. “It’s really disgusting to think people are either too lazy or so unconcerned about dumping their garbage on somebody’s front door, so to speak.”
Delta has a $500 fine for illegally dumping garbage, which the city raised from $300 back in 2013, but Jackson explained that only applies to public property.
The owner, in those instances, is usually responsible for paying to have it removed.
“It seems so unfair, in a way,” Jackson remarked.
Like Evans is considering, Jackson said company’s installing video systems have helped in Delta in similar instances.
“Once you’ve got a license plate or people on video, it’s pretty hard to contest if you’re caught,” the mayor said.
Putting up gates has been another successful deterrent, she noted.
“It’s a small price to pay when you realize how much it’s going to cost on an ongoing basis to take it away to the dump,” said Jackson.
The issue is significant in Surrey, as well, and the city’s fine is also $500. In 2014, Coun. Bruce Hayne told the Now it cost the city $800,000 to $900,000 a year for the previous three years.