OLDS — Tom and Donna McCullough woke up Sunday morning, July 19, to find that Tom’s truck, which he uses for work, had been vandalized – splashed with paint.
The couple believes it was paint that had been set out by someone in the neighbourhood to be collected as part of the town’s pilot recycling program.
They spent 10 hours and about $300 to get the paint cleaned off.
Workers at a couple of local car washes spent hours on the job. The McCulloughs are very grateful for that and extremely impressed with the effort they put in.
However, there’s still a bit of paint in at least one area, so they plan to take the truck into a local body shop when that business has time to get the rest of it out.
On July 20, the McCulloughs went to the town office to tell staff about the incident; not to complain, but to warn them that the program needs to be revised to prevent the same thing – or something worse – from happening to someone else.
They were advised to go on the town’s website to report the problem, which they pledged to do.
“I didn’t want them to pay for it. What I want them to do, I want them to be aware for next year when this comes out. Try to figure out a way to make it different than sitting it out on the sidewalk and for people just to leave it there,” Tom said during an interview.
“My suggestion is they have a place where people can take it rather than leaving it out on the sidewalk for the community.
“Or maybe make more rules to it: that if it’s not picked up by a certain time you put it back in (your home) rather than leaving it on the street overnight,” Donna said.
The McCulloughs live in the uptown area.
“I’ve lived there for three years now and I’ve never had a problem -- until this happened,” Tom said.
“There are good people in Olds. I’m not saying there’s no good people because I’ve loved this community, there are people that help. I’ve lived here all my life,” he said.
The couple stressed they support recycling programs and have utilized them in the past.
Donna said because this particular project was a pilot project, it’s understandable it might require some adjustments.
“It’s a pilot project, so it’s going to have quirks, right? And you’ve got to work those quirks out. And unfortunately, we were the ones who have seen the results,” she said.
In an email, Michael Merritt, chief administrative officer of the Town of Olds, sympathized with the plight of the McCulloughs.
“It was disappointing that the recycling ended on a bad thing that happened with someone feeling the need to vandalize someone else's personal property,” he wrote.
However, overall, the program went very well, he said.
Noting that the program was offered by the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA), Merritt indicated it will be up to them to change it if they deem that to be necessary.
“They will take the all learnings both positive and negative and make adjustments into the future,” he wrote.
ARMA chief executive officer Ed Gugenheimer said the authority is aware of the paint-throwing incident. He said that's one problem they're looking at fixing, on the assumption the program will be offered again.
"Those are some of the takeaways that we are looking at," Gugenheimer said during an interview. "How can we make things more safe?
"We knew that could be a risk, but we wanted to assess it. The team is rallying 'round it and figuring out how we can make it work and avoid situations like that."