Site icon Things I find in the garbage



It was bound to happen eventually. I finally got a ticket for trash picking in Mount Royal after receiving three previous warnings (first, second, the third I don’t think I bothered to mention).

To clarify, some boroughs of Montreal have their own government and bylaws. While trash picking is legal (or, at the very least the laws are never enforced) in most of the city, some parts of town have laws against it. One of those boroughs is the Town of Mount Royal (TMR), a wealthy suburban community not too far away from my place in the Plateau.

I knew that it was probably just a matter of time before I got a ticket. It’s just that the trash there has been too good to give up on. TMR has lots of money and a rich history – a profitable combination for a trash picker like me. It’s also great that it’s not too far from home.

My strategy has just been to avoid the local security guys as much as possible. It’s worked pretty well, considering that I’m there nearly every week but have only had a few previous encounters.

That night felt a bit like a game of cat and mouse. I kept seeing this security guy driving around, but they can’t seem to do much as long as I’m in or just entering my car. I successfully dodged him on a few occasions, but he did eventually catch up with me.

I saw that white SUV for the umpteenth time that night and drove into the side roads to lose him. I stopped not long after because I wanted to check out the picture frame in the picture above. If I were being super cautious I wouldn’t have stopped so soon, but I figured I was probably just being paranoid. Before I got out of the car I checked my rear-view mirror; I thought I saw a SUV moving slowly in the distance (maybe 150m behind me), but decided it was an illusion because the headlights weren’t on.

I noticed the SUV bearing down – lights still off – on my position while checking out the frame. (Whether rent-a-cops should be allowed to drive down roads at midnight with no lights on is another question entirely). I figured I was screwed, as I wasn’t about to run to the car and drive off really quick, and accepted my fate. The cat (who’s definitely not like Thomasina the enchanted cat from my last post!) had pounced and caught their prey.

The specific bylaw is 1358 37(1): “No person shall… rummage through a container or bin of refuse, commercial refuse, construction refuse, hazardous household waste, bulky refuse, recoverable secondary materials or yard waste.” The fine is 220$, a fairly hefty sum for someone like me.

I haven’t decided what to do about it yet. I’m definitely angry, as I think the bylaw is dumb on many different counts. However, it’d be hard to fight since I clearly committed the “crime.” The only way I could possibly fight it, at least in my layman’s interpretation of the law, is to go big and try to argue that it’s my right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be able to rummage through materials that are clearly abandoned. I’d love to fight it, not just for myself but also on behalf of trash pickers across the country (some of whom are already marginalized) who are punished by these sorts of laws.

However, my (somewhat spite motivated) fantasy is probably pretty far-fetched and would involve a tonne of resources I don’t have. I’ll likely end up having to pay the ticket. Whether this effects my trash picking habits remains to be seen. I don’t really have anywhere else to go on Tuesday night so the temptation to return is strong. I may just have to be more cautious, though at a certain point that cautiousness morphs into a paranoia which I don’t at all enjoy.

Despite the fine I still managed to load the car with trash. Here are the things I saved that the Town of Mount Royal would apparently prefer to destroy. It’s worth noting that I could have saved way more, but I only have so much time, space, and energy to work with.

I saved the picture frame from the photo above; …

… a box full of books, including copies of The Plague by Camus and Walden by Thoreau;

… an interesting clay sculpture;

… an unexciting but functional shoe rack;

… a cool trunk;

… a Waterloo Shop Series tool chest (which goes new for around 150+ shipping);

… a nice framed print (perhaps an old engraving?);

… a lamp;

… a stack of records,

… including three unusual medical LPs which I presume are lectures on the various topics;

… a nice plant, which unfortunately broke a bit when it was placed into the bag;

… and three books full of 1980s baseball cards. None are super valuable, but they’re fun to look at.

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