A justice of the peace levied $500 fines on four young men Thursday for their part in causing a grassfire in Noble Creek last September.
The fire cost the City of Kamloops $65,000 to fight.
The City issued $1,000 tickets for illegal dumping to seven people in the aftermath of the blaze. Three of them paid the tickets without challenging them, while four went to went to bylaws court to challenge the amount.
They acknowledged hauling pallets to an area in Noble Creek as bonfire fuel in advance of a grad bush party. An RCMP investigation cleared them of playing any party in lighting the fire or being there when it occurred.
Ed Lingel, father of one of the four, Jordan Lingel, who was ticketed, called the $1,000 fine "outrageous." He compared it with a similar provincial fine for littering of $115.
The four who pleaded guilty Thursday are Taylor Ronnquist, Dustin Bakke, Jaydon Bakke and Lingel, who plays junior hockey for the Kelowna Chiefs.
But justice of the peace Brian Burgess said a significant fine is needed to send a message about the dangers of grad parties in general.
"I have three boys. I strictly discourage them from going. One went, and a kid fell into the fire," Burgess said.
Lingel said bush parties have happened at Noble Creek and other areas around Kamloops for at least four decades. He argued the best message for kids about the dangers of grad parties would be targeted education sessions put on by the district, rather than stiff penalties for littering.
But Burgess said the education is up to parents.
"Ultimately this falls on parents' shoulders. . . . I think parents are tolerating it. I think if parents took a more active role these bush parties would not continue," he said.
© Kamloops Daily News