Cobourg Woman Learns The Hard Way That No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

In Local

A Cobourg woman has learned that the adage, no good deed goes unpunished is true.

Melindah Knott lives on Ontario Street in Cobourg, just south of Elgin Street.

Knott was told by her neighbour that there were numerous bags of “garbage” just to the south of her house in a field near Ontario Street on September 21.

Both women decided to see if there was anything in the bags that would lead them to who dumped the garbage.

As soon as they approached they discovered it was a homeless person’s property.

The note said the woman would be back in two hours and asked that no one throw out the clothes and other items that were in the bags because it was all she had.

“It sat here for about a week, so we decided to pick the items up and we attended the police service to ask what to do with it because we found drug paraphernalia in the bag.”

Police told the women to not go through the bag and police would attend to pick up the drug paraphernalia, “but the other items belonged under the category of the bylaw officer – and to contact them basically.”

When the police officer came to pick up the drug paraphernalia that was with the woman’s belongings he asked if he spotted the woman if he could bring her to Knotts house to collect the belongs that were under the roof of a garage.

The officer was working the night shift, and said he has spotted the woman earlier in the week.

“I said absolutely. I immediately went in the house, grabbed an old suitcase and put some warm sweaters in it, with the hopes that this woman would be able to use the suit case to help cart her items around. And it’s getting cold – everybody needs a woman jacket.”

Knott was so concerned she got up around 3 a.m. and was disheartened to see the items were still in her garage.

Knott called by-law Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and was informed that because she had removed the items from the original spot that they could not come and collect it because it was on private property.

“I explained the officer I spoke with knew the person. I made it clear that they were trying to reunite her with her items and that they had instructed me to call bylaw because they would come and collect it and hold it for two weeks.”

Bylaw told Knott that because she moved the items to her own property – they couldn’t come and pick it up.

Knott then stated she would bring the four bags of items back to where she had found them and bylaw could pick it up from there which they agreed.

As of 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28, the items were still clearly visible where Knott had left them – five days after she spoke with bylaw.

Knott said she was “very disappointed and I wonder, not to pull the taxpayers card, but what are they doing? You can’t tell me they didn’t have 10-minutes to come pick this stuff up.”

Today’s Northumberland reached out for comment from bylaw.

Manager of Bylaw Enforcement and Licensing, Kevin Feagan stated,” the response protocol/procedure from By-law Enforcement has been reactive to complaints for encampments in municipal parks/public places and includes site visits/inspections, engagement and education, notices to vacate, time permitted to comply and if compliance is not achieved removal and storage of items. If an encampment is on private property, the property owner is advised and staff offer assistance if the owner would prefer we act as agent of the property. The property owner may address the issue themselves in which case bylaw enforcement would not be involved unless there are associated subsequent issues with nuisance, waste accumulation or land use violations under the Zoning By-law. In this particular instance there was significant involvement by a third party and while compassionate and well intentioned it negated the typical response protocols.”

Bylaw does keep items for two weeks.

Update – the items had been removed as of October 1, 2022.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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