Man slapped with $21,000 fine for damaging neighbour’s trees

Road salt is quite damaging to the environment and if released thoughtlessly, can cause serious damage to water, animals, plants and trees.
Road salt is quite damaging to the environment and if released thoughtlessly, can cause serious damage to water, animals, plants and trees. (Photo: iStock)

Love thy neighbour’s trees is obviously not a saying that can apply to the following case.

A Haldimand, Ont. man stored road salt on his property, which ended up causing extensive damage to his neighbour’s trees. The structure that he used to house the salt was not waterproof, and that would turn out to have serious consequences, both for him and his neighbour.

His neighbour had a whole line of tall and mature cedar trees which ran along the property line. Unfortunately, the water run-off from the road salt ended up badly affecting the majestic trees which turned brown.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment investigated what caused the trees to be damaged, and found that it was the road salt. They charged the man under the Environmental Protection Act.

Apparently, this is the first time a person has been prosecuted under the EPA in regards to tree damage that resulted through polluting activities. The section reads, “a person shall not discharge a contaminant or cause or permit the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment, if the discharge causes or may cause an adverse effect.”

Last month the man pleaded guilty to one charge of allowing the discharge of road salt that caused or was likely to cause damage to his neighbour’s trees. The consequences were not cheap: he was given a $5,000 fine, a 25 per cent victim surcharge on the fine (which works out to $1,250), and also had to pay $16,000 in restitution to his neighbour.

Road salt is quite damaging to the environment and if released thoughtlessly, can cause serious damage to water, animals, plants and trees, as in this case. The government has increasingly become concerned over road salt usage and storage and has even released a code of practice in how to properly use and manage road salts.

It’s probably a good idea not to store road salt, or other contaminants, on your property but if you do, make sure you are following all the rules set out by your municipality, the Code of Practice for Environmental Management of Road Salts, and the EPA to prevent damaging property and the environment.

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