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TBM may consider new fines for dog poop littering

Future of blue box collection program on the minds of residents and council as deadline approaches for producers to start handling recycling
The Town of The Blue Mountains is considering a new fine for leaving behind dog waste.

Failing to stoop and scoop dog waste may become a pricey habit in the Town of The Blue Mountains.

The town is going to consider adding special fines for leaving behind dog waste to its waste management and litter control bylaws.

On Sept. 19, the town held a public meeting about updates it is planning to its waste management and litter control bylaw and revisions to its monetary penalties bylaw.

The town is in the process of updating and consolidating a number of waste-management-related bylaws into one document. Changes include: the recognition of the transition of blue box collection from a town responsibility to a producer responsibility and updates to littering and property condition portions of the bylaw.

Although the meeting did not generate a lot of public interest, with just two citizens attending in person and one providing written comments, it did generate discussion about implementing specific fines for leaving behind dog waste.

Local resident Cindy Lennox wrote to council and asked that the litter control bylaw include specific fines for those who leave behind their dog waste. The comments prompted Coun. Alex Maxwell to ask about the possibility of including fines for leaving behind dog waste in the bylaw.

“How would that actually be policed? Would it be citizen-based? You can’t send the bylaw officer out to catch the dogs,” said Maxwell.

Jeffery Fletcher, the town’s manager of solid waste and environmental initiatives, said specific wording could be added to the bylaw for dog waste – although he noted that the general rules around littering probably covered leaving behind dog poop.

“Like any other bylaw, it will probably be complaints-based. It is a challenge to try and enforce who is letting their dog go to the bathroom and leaving it, as opposed to putting it in a bag,” said Fletcher, who said specific rules would apply to those who scoop their dog waste into a bag and then leave it behind. “For some strange reason, that’s something that’s become more frequent.”

Ron Duke and Carol Darling spoke to council at the meeting and raised concerns about the possibility that the blue box transition will lead to changes in how recycling material is collected. Many seasonal residents in The Blue Mountains leave their blue box material in a stationary bin at the end of their driveway to be picked up. Both Duke and Darling expressed concerns this will change once the producers take over responsibility for collection.

Fletcher said he has flagged this concern as a potential issue in the future and he said the town would be lobbying to have the service standards remain the same.

“I’m glad this issue came up. I understand the concerns and perhaps there is a need to massage the wording in the bylaw,” said Fletcher. “I definitely want Circular Materials (the company created by the producers to take over the collection of blue box material) to continue that. We’re not the only ones in this boat and we’ll continue to advocate for that.”

Fletcher said at this point, there is no wording in the contracts that says Circular Materials won’t continue to collect material from stationary boxes, but, with the possibility of a common collection system for the entire province a future possibility, it was an issue to keep in the forefront.

“We want to make sure we get ahead of that,” he said.

Town staff will now complete a follow-up report based on the comments at the public meeting. The report will come to council’s committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 17. The final version of the bylaw will come to council for approval at the Oct. 30 meeting.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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