Littering resolution trashed by council

Puslinch councillors agree littering is a problem, but they defeated a proposal for a $1,000 fine upon conviction.

On June 15, councillor Jerry  Schmidt moved that the township initiate a fine to deter people from littering. He said the move would require the purchase and installation of appropriate signs.

Schmidt’s  argument was based on comments from the township’s community forum that the municipality develop  a deterrent to roadside littering. He believes a significant fine in itself would be an effective deterrent.

“This concept is already in place in many communities in Canada and the United States,” he said. He added that a review of those fines might offer other options.

Schmidt was adamant any fines for littering should go to the township, not the province.

“I believe this would work.”

Councillor Ken Roth also sees littering as a problem – not just in Puslinch, but in every township.

He agreed a fine might act as a deterrent, but, “I’m just uncertain on the reality of enforcement.”

He wondered how much it would cost for signs.

While councillor Wayne Stokley agree with the concerns about littering, he questioned the legality of such a bylaw if it is already covered under the Highway Traffic Act. He also questioned the cost and effectiveness of installing signs.

“We have signs for a lot of things already,” he said.

Councillor Susan Fielding agreed with Stokley, and believes council needs further advice before proceeding.

“I’m unsure if I’d be prepared to support this tonight.”

She said it might not make sense to pass the bylaw and install the signs if the bylaw could not be enforced.

Mayor Dennis Lever said the issue falls under the Highway Traffic Act. “I agree we have a problem, I’m just not sure of the best solution.”

Lever said he would like to find out what has worked for other areas.

In a written response Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Law said, “There is no simple answer to this. While the significant amount of a fine may be a deterrent, the enforcement is the greater problem.”

She added finding the culprit and proving it may be an even bigger problem.

“Littering is illegal under the Highway Traffic Act which is enforced by the OPP.”

She said past practice in the township is if the roads department staff or a ratepayer or resident come across bags of garbage and are able to find an envelope or something with a name on it, the township will contact the OPP, which will then follow up.

“Usually the best deterrent here is when the guilty party has to come back and remove the garbage and dispose of it properly,” Law said.

Her recommendation to council was to vote on the existing resolution, and possibly bring the issue up in a different manner later on, after more investigation is done on ways other areas have successfully reduced littering.

Council defeated Schmidt’s resolution.