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Guelph forced to hire security guards to help deal with angry residents dropping off yard waste

New $5 fee to drop off residential yard waste has some people throwing money at staff and becoming verbally abusive

The city has hired security guards for the Waste Resource Innovation Centre to help deal with residents angry at having to pay $5 to drop off yard waste.

"They're throwing money at staff, they're throwing money on the floor and they're becoming very verbally abusive," said Catherine McCausland, operations manager at the site.

"I'm not comfortable with my staff having to put up with that. It's really disappointing, actually," McCausland said. "Some of the behaviour is absolutely ridiculous."

Beginning Aug. 1, residents had to start paying $5 a load to drop off residential yard waste at the site. It had previously been free.

McCausland said the throwing of money at staff is just "one step below assault" and they want to make sure that never happens and they want to make sure staff feels safe.

The fee was recommended by staff and approved by city council in July as a means to help deal with a $750,000 budget shortfall at the WRIC this year.

McCausland said most people take the new fee in stride, but some become very angry at being told they now have to pay.

"There's all kinds of swearing and yelling at staff," she said.

"I had one customer say 'I only dropped a few F-bombs. Tell your staff to put their big boy pants on,'" McCausland said of one example of the verbal abuse.

She said the presence of security guards helps diffuse situations, often before they get started.

"Security seems to be working. A couple of times people got upset but calmed down when the security guard came over."

Initially it was city by-law officers on site, but because of the time commitment they have switched to a private security firm.

"Staff shouldn't have to put up with that kind of abuse. They don't make the decisions," McCausland said.

She compared it to getting upset with a cashier at the grocery store because the price of a bag of milk went up.

Adam Harris, who owns Gardens Simply Done, has been dropping off yard waste at the centre for five years and couldn't believe people are treating the staff that way.

"It's garbage," Haris said Tuesday while dropping off a truck load. "They're just nice people. I haven't come across a mean person here.

"The fee has nothing to do with them," Harris said. "Sometimes people just need to vent and have something to complain about."

McCausland said she hopes the behaviour improves and the security is no longer needed. But for now a guard is on duty by the pay booth as you enter the area for dropping off yard waste.

"Some people are just very upset and angry. They think they can take it out on staff."




Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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