Garbage problems

Current bylaw enforcement strategy ineffective in curbing
the issue of improper waste disposal: Samson, Moglove

Coun. Larry Samson is frustrated by the amount of litter blowing around city streets because of people not securing their garbage properly.

Samson presented city council Tuesday night with six photos that show garbage and recycling overflowing from cans and blue boxes on the side of the road and waste strewn around sidewalks and lawns.

Samson said the city bylaw, which tickets people who don’t secure their garbage in a can with a proper lid, isn’t working because enforcement is complaint driven.

“We’re asking neighbours to tell on neighbours and by the time we can do an investigation the wind has blown it all away,” Samson said.

“The bylaw isn’t working as it is. This stuff’s blowing away all over the place.

“People are still putting out plastic garbage bags and the seagulls, the crows, are getting into it and now we’re relying on neighbours to call in a complaint to our bylaw enforcement department that’s already overworked as it is.”

Samson suggested the city could crack down on offenders by refusing to pick up any garbage not in a garbage can or to take note of those not properly securing their garbage and send the offenders a friendly reminder on proper procedures.

But Samson’s motion to have city staff come back with a report to council on how to remedy the problem was defeated by council, with all opposed except for Samson.

Coun. Ron Kerr said while he understood Samson’s intent, he was concerned it would put more stress on the city’s overworked bylaw enforcement department.

“If we’re going to put money into this issue, the money is much better spent on educating people than running around chasing people who are spreading papers,” Kerr said.

“It’s not up to city staff to pick up garbage from the side of the road, it’s up to communities.”

Samson tried a second attempt, taking aim at convenience stores.

This time, a motion to have city staff report back on actions that can be taken against convenience stores that do not address excessive litter in their surrounding location, was passed by council.

Samson said the litter in the vicinity of certain stores is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

“It’s just a mess,” Samson said, referring to some of the photos he distributed to council.

“I think the convenience stores have some obligation to deal with this and it could be extra garbage containers, it could be anything, but they should have some steps in place to help mitigate the garbage we’re seeing on our main streets.”

Whatever options city staff do come back with may be hard to enforce. City Manager Andy Laidlaw said because there is just one full-time bylaw enforcement officer at City Hall, the city does not have the resources to go out and look for garbage offences.

Coun. Claire Moglove said it’s clear there’s a much bigger issues at play.

“What we need is a council that needs to make a decision at some point whether or not we’re going to move from a reactive, complaint-driven enforcement of our bylaws to a more proactive enforcement of our bylaws,” Moglove said.

“Until we move into something that’s more proactive, we’re going to be in a situation where our bylaws, they’re there, but we don’t have a lot of effective enforcement tools.”