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OPINION: Flush the sani-dump entitlement

Outrage about the closure of the City of Castlegar’s sani-dump has populated social media pages
File photo

The city-owned sani-dump at the Castlegar Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre is now closed, and judging by the response of some, you’d think it was the hospital that shut down.

Outrage has populated social media pages, coffee shops and letters to the editor.

“How dare they close our favourite free spot to dump our RV and camping waste?”

Comments on the City of Castlegar Facebook page included calls to dump waste tanks at City Hall and on city councillor’s lawns.

The sani-dump was closed as preparations began for the demolition of the chamber building to make way for a new one. The closure has been publicized for at least a year. There are two other local options — the Husky gas station and Syringa Creek Provincial Park.

Granted, losing a sani-dump at the height of tourist season is unfortunate. But the building season coincides with the tourist season, so it really can’t be helped.

Many of the comments from RV owners have included statements that not only should a new city-run sani-dump be built immediately, but that it also should continue to be free to use.

These comments first began to surface several months ago when the future of the sani-dump was discussed at a city council meeting and council began to signal that any new facility would likely go to a fee-for-use model.

But this brings several larger questions to light. Should a sani-dump be a municipal service? And should a service that is only used by small percentage of the population be subsidized by the rest of the population?

An argument could be made that a sani-dump attracts tourists and tourism boosts the overall economy, hence benefiting the community as a whole and justifying it as a municipal service.

But the city would need to pay for that service through its main source of revenue — our property taxes.

When privileged members of society are asked to subsidize services provided to more vulnerable members of society — say, healthcare or education, for example — the argument to do so is fairly easy to accept.

When the single parent struggling to pay their mortgage is asked to subsidize the owner of a $50,000 motor home, that’s a harder pill to swallow.

Obviously, not every owner of a RV falls into the “privileged” category and it would be unfair to lump all owners together. But a sense of entitlement among some has been plainly evident in the online comments related to the sani-dump’s closure.

Is it really too much to expect the users of a sani-dump to pay for the service? No one expects to use a car wash for free, why should they expect to use a sani-dump for free?

One thing is certain, threatening to dump waste on rural land, city property or councillor’s yards will not encourage non-RV owners to support the building and funding of a new sani-dump.

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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