The city is considering imposing strict rules on the owners of waste receptables

Waste company concerned about proposed graffiti fines

At least one waste management company is concerned with a new city policy to fine waste companies who don’t remove graffiti from their dumpsters.

City council has given first and second reading to the city’s public nuisance bylaw that, if approved, would give waste disposal companies 12 days to remove tags from its garbage bins or be slapped with a $250 fine. Steve Hocking, operations for Progressive Waste Solutions, wrote in a letter to the city that the timeline is unreasonable.

“The management team would like to express our concerns at this time regarding the allotted timeline given to repair and paint any graffiti laden receptacles,” Hocking wrote.

He suggested the city provide some leeway and give the companies a three-week or 15 business day time frame “as this is a time consuming process based on excess labour and increased expense.”

Hocking also recommended that the waste companies not be liable for any graffiti that reappears on the bins after they’ve already been fixed or refurbished and that any repair expense be the responsibility of the business and/or property owner. Hocking further suggested that the city “create a one year (12 month) deliberation process for review without imposing any type of penalty or fine.”

Council was expected to consider Hocking’s letter at its Tuesday night council meeting, after the Mirror went to press, and to give third reading to the bylaw amendment.

City Clerk Peter Wipper told council that city staff have contacted eight waste collection companies to notify them of the possible changes and only Progressive has responded with a letter.

Waste Management, however, has indicated that it intends on sending a written submission while Contain Away Services, Supersave Disposal and All Type Trucking have all told the city they have no intention of making a submission.

The crackdown on graffiti removal was justified by City Bylaw Enforcement Officer Pat Patterson as a way to get a handle on the increasing amounts of tags popping up on dumpsters.

Coun. Ron Kerr said at the Dec. 14 council meeting, when the item first surfaced, that while it may seem unfair, it’s something that needs to be dealt with.

“This is vandalism we’re talking about and unfortunately there is a cost to the owners of the containers,” Kerr said. “But to neglect the removal of the tagging would undermine the hard work of the community to clean up this scourge of tagging within the community.”

Harding, though, said there has to be a better solution.

“As we are all aware, the consistent tagging of waste receptacles, commercial buildings and other stand alone structures, this constant problem will always persist within any city unless the vandals are caught and prosecuted in a court of law,” Harding wrote. “Placing full accountability for this act should not be exclusive to the local waste companies.”

The city has made efforts in the past year to curb the amount of graffiti appearing across the city.

Council spent $55,000 last year on a graffiti clean-up program targeting roadway infrastructure such as light poles, road signs and benches. The city also updated its public nuisance bylaw in 2014 with a requirement that property owners remove graffiti within five business days of its appearance.