As the spring thaw reveals the buildup of litter that accumulated over the winter, Regina Ward 6 Councillor Dan LeBlanc wants the City to take a look at how to more strictly enforce bylaws that prohibit the buildup of garbage on property.
“When I was door knocking during the campaign, especially in the Heritage neighborhood, I heard from a lot of people about vacant lots being turned into dump sites with people dropping mattresses and bags of garbage – that sort of thing,” LeBlanc said, adding that he hears from residents that litter often ends up in lawns and yards adjacent to overflowing garbage carts.
LeBlanc mentioned the Community Standards Bylaw specifically as one he’d like to see reviewed.
“One of my roles as a councillor is to bring resident concerns to city staff to enforce our bylaw that says ‘don’t have garbage out.’ I found through that process that our bylaw doesn’t have a lot of teeth.”
The Community Standards Bylaw regulates and enforces property maintenance standards in Regina.
Regina residents can also be fined under the Clean Property Bylaw for littering on public or private property.
“I think we need stronger ticketing for people that are continually breaking our bylaws and having garbage out, causing problems for their neighbours,” said LeBlanc.
On the subject of litter, community standards and enforcement, LeBlanc has submitted a notice of motion that will be viewed by city council later this month.
“Whereas illegal dumping and lower-than-average landfill diversion rates in some communities has resulted in littered alleys and streets,” the motion reads.
“Be it resolved that administration prepare a report for the Operations and Community Services Committee for Q3 of 2021 that provides recommendations on the following.”
The motion requests administration identify a strategy of increasing fines and prosecution efforts of landlords and repeat offenders, including by potentially granting bylaw enforcement authority to waste cleanup crews. It also requests a study into the feasibility of reducing the timeline provided to property owners to remove garbage and debris from their properties.
The motion also requests the administration explore the idea of bringing community dumpsters back into core neighbourhoods, from which they were phased out about a decade ago, and provide more needle disposal bins “in partnership with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and other organizations engaged in harm reduction activities.”
Fines for noncompliance of the Community Standards Bylaw under the “untidy and unsightly” offense are $500 for first conviction, $1,000 for the second, and $1,500 for the third.
Currently, bylaw officers and housing standards officers can inspect properties, order property owners to remedy bylaw violations and issue fines.
With regards to littering, the bylaw states “no person shall suffer, cause or permit any land, building, structure or yard to become untidy or unsightly due to serious
disregard for general maintenance or upkeep.”
“Rubbish, litter, debris and other waste material” are listed as items people aren’t allowed to let accumulate under the bylaw.
LeBlanc said that as it’s written, he doesn’t think the Community Standards Bylaw sufficiently assigns responsibility to clean up waste that has made its way from a private property onto public land, like an alleyway.
“It doesn’t have much to do with public property, so if you have overflowing trash bins out back the bylaw doesn’t have a lot to say about it and that’s where we see a lot of problems,” LeBlanc said.
He added that he thinks waste collection should be done differently in different parts of Regina.
“Folks will know the individual brown and blue bins. I think we need more bigger bins in core neighbourhoods because a lot of people aren’t able to get out to the dump with their big things. So, to get ahead of mattresses, we need to do garbage collection differently in the core of the city than say, in the suburbs. It’s quite a different group of folks and so you need a different service level,” he said.
“I think the city should be serious at looking at our service level on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood level. It’s totally OK to take a targeted approach and so I think that’s what we should do with garbage here.”
LeBlanc’s motion was originally scheduled to be heard by council on March 31.
Due to timing issues, the motion is now slated to be heard by his fellow councillors on April 14.
The motion is cosigned by Ward 3 Councillor Andrew Stevens.
“The main point of this,” LeBlanc said, “is to use tickets where appropriate to change behaviour and to go after these sort of repeat offenders on these things.”