If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, Jonathan Battle discovered a fortune. Inside a dumpster behind Calgary’s Max Bell Arena, he found a heap full of opportunity.
“I see all this and I am absolutely appalled.”
“There’s kids out there that have to be on the sidelines year through year, I was one of them,” Battle said.
He was riding his bike past the garbage bin when he noticed a collection of sports equipment overflowing from it. Once he started digging, he lost count of what was in there.
“There’s Nike skates, Bauer skates, bags of brand new soccer balls that have never been inflated, there’s hockey gloves out the wazoo,” Battle said.
“Honestly, I was angry at first thinking, ‘this is crazy’. Then I felt tears come to my eyes, this is just horrible.”
According to the City of Calgary, the equipment belonged to the Calgary Police Youth Foundation’s Power Play program.
It’s a free weekly drop-in for young people to have the chance to skate alongside police officers. The concept helps foster a positive relationship between police and others in the community. Inspector Bruce Walker with the CPS Youth Services Section said donors help them purchase brand new equipment for youth in need.
“The impact of these positive interactions is amazing,” Insp. Walker said.
Every year they do a ‘locker clean-up’ and the gear is assessed.
“We go through every piece to be sure it has life. Some equipment gets torn and ripped and unhygienic and if it’s damaged beyond repair we look at discarding and it may not have that future use in a community,” Insp. Walker said.
An arena staff member offered to donate it but didn’t, according to the City’s recreation superintendent. David Torres said the employee accepted the gear with the best intentions.
“The staff member was ill-equipped to handle the logistics of the donation process and disposed of the equipment,” Torres said.
He issued an apology to the Calgary Police Youth Foundation and any organizations that may have been able to use the gear.
“We are learning from this unfortunate situation and are taking steps to ensure a similar error doesn’t happen again,” Torres said.
Charities collecting gently used gear are in disbelief the equipment was destined for the landfill. Dampy Brar co-founded the APNA hockey program. The organization provides equipment for hockey players from diverse communities.
“When a parent sees this, they will be in awe of what happened. This is uncalled for and this is not right,” Brar said.
“If any youth sees this, they would think, ‘why? Why would someone do this?'”
Battle said he salvaged what he could, and plans to donate what he gathered up.
“I love hockey and I was never able to play much because as a single family we didn’t have enough money for me and my sister to both play. I’m going to make sure someone gets use out of this,” Battle said.