Questions surround mountainous waste pile near Penticton as company’s finances trashed
The mountains of construction and demolition waste towering high over Green Mountain Road on the Penticton Indian Reserve has been an eyesore for years.
Neighbours have complained about the potential fire hazard and claimed it’s a risk to public health.
Last spring, operator Appleton Waste Services — which leases the land from a band member — promised to clean up its act.
But that was then and this is now.
The dump piles remain, and the business’s finances are also in the trash.
Court documents obtained by Global News show Appleton Waste has declared itself insolvent and cut a deal with creditors.
Appleton filed a Division I proposal under the Canada Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. It is an option available to businesses to restructure debts and operations instead of filing for bankruptcy.
WATCH (Aired April 2018) Dump pile near Penticton prompts concerns about public health, fire hazard
The company is $2.5 million in debt. The proposal will allow creditors to recover $765,000 to $790,000 over three years.
Insolvency trustee Gregory Moroso, hired by Appleton, claims it’s a much better deal than if the business were to pursue bankruptcy proceedings.
“The proposal contemplates a recovery to creditors in the range of 45% to 57%, while bankruptcy proceeding results in little to no recovery to unsecured creditors,” Moroso writes in the report.
The court filings note that management has eliminated its Alberta operations “which has reduced payroll significantly.”
The documents say the B.C. operation will retain its nine employees but there are five outstanding wage claims from Alberta employees totaling approximately $10,000.
Moroso says in an email to Global News that the proposal was accepted by the required majority of creditors at a meeting on April 5.
An application for the court to approve the proposal has been submitted.
So what does the company’s financial woes mean for the on site clean-up efforts?
The landlord, Adam Eneas, and Appleton are still working out a plan.
“We are in the process of restructuring our operations and will continue to do everything we can to remove the material from the Green Mountain Road site,” owner David Appleton said in an email.
WATCH (Aired October 2017) More enforcement and resources needed to curb illegal dumping near Penticton
Eneas declined to comment but says on Facebook that “we are looking at alternatives to get rid of the waste.”
Last spring, Appleton blamed the mess on equipment failures and assured the public all on-site material is non-hazardous. He added that 90 per cent of the material is recyclable.
“As far as the appearance of it, absolutely we are making it a priority to get waste sorted, recycled where we can, and the residual out to landfill to get this pile down,” he told Global Okanagan in April of last year.
Appleton declined an on-camera interview on Wednesday, but blamed his company’s financial hardships on the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS).
“We have continued to struggle with our transfer operation in Penticton, mostly as a result of the RDOS reducing their disposal rates by around half since we started up as a competitor,” he said in an email.
“They set out to eliminate their only competitor, and unfortunately it’s hard to compete with a government body wanting to eliminate any competition.”
Appleton is embroiled in a lawsuit with the RDOS over alleged unpaid dumping fees at local landfills totaling $147,000.
“The RDOS claim for unpaid disposal fees is for surcharges related to supposed mixed waste being disposed of. We paid all their posted gate rates for everything we have ever delivered to them,” he said.
Global Okanagan has reached out to the RDOS for comment.
Appleton Waste Services was incorporated in June 1993 and was purchased by the current ownership in May 2013. It primarily acts as a transporter and processor in the waste and recycling industry, according to court documents.
Its three main operations includes processing of recyclables, roll off collection and long-haul transportation of waste and other materials.
Appleton says while it shut down its Alberta operations, it plans to continue running the transfer station on the Penticton reserve.
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