A proposal to increase fines for individuals who illegally dump garbage in Winnipeg has the support of at least one inner-city residents’ association.
Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) recently proposed a motion to the city’s public works committee asking civic administrators to provide recommendations on increased fines for individuals who illegally dump garbage. A report on the recommendation is expected to be tabled with the committee within 60 days.
Annette Champion-Taylor, a member of the William Whyte Residents Association who attended the meeting in support of Eadie’s proposal, said she’s pleased the city is attempting to find a solution to the problem.
"I’ve got to give the city credit, they’re really paying attention to what we’re saying," she said.
Champion-Taylor said she is hopeful higher fines will stop people from dumping items such as couches and mattresses in residential neighbourhoods.
Eadie said his proposal to curb illegal dumping is part of a much broader plan to improve life for residents of north Winnipeg. It includes a revitalization plan for North Point Douglas and a 21-block "live safe" community which would include portions of the William Whyte and Dufferin neighbourhoods.
The motion to increase fines for illegal dumping was the result of concerns raised by a local clean and green committee, Eadie said.
"They brought it up, and I agree with it, that (existing) fines are not enough of a deterrent," he said.
The current fine for illegally dumping trash is $300 for individuals and $600 for corporations. Those amounts are reduced by half if paid within 15 days.
Eadie said prior to the city’s new garbage plan, people were sometimes fined as little as $50.
His motion calls for fines of $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for businesses caught dumping or abandoning bulk waste on public and private property. The fines can be reduced by half if violators agree to pay without a court battle.
"That’s serious. That’s more than just the cost of doing business," Eadie said.
"There will be some people who can’t pay that fine, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a strong deterrent."
Champion-Taylor said illegal dumping has been going on in her neighbourhood for years, even before the introduction of auto bins.
"The only place you can get rid of a mattress is Brady landfill, and people didn’t want to be bothered... when all these dumpsters were available in back lanes," she said, adding the problem has continued even with the recent introduction of rolling garbage bins for individual households.
"Building materials, shingles and stuff, that happens all the time. They’ll just dump it."
The city’s administration could table a report on the recommendation within 30 days in a best case scenario. The report could be voted on as soon as next January.
Eadie said he doesn’t expect there would be a problem with raising the fines, since the city’s summary convictions act allows for a maximum fine of $5,000. A plan will also have to be developed in the future to ensure there’s enough bylaw officers to hand out fines.
"You need to catch more people to (create) that deterrent," Eadie said.
In the meantime, the William Whyte group is eager to make sure locals are educated on how to handle their trash.
It currently includes various garbage and recycling tips in its newsletter, and it’s also encouraging residents to be proactive in reporting scofflaws. Champion-Taylor said the association is asking residents to record license plate numbers and other pertinent information so that perpetrators can be caught.
"It’s got to be a really strong message. We’re not tolerating this anymore," she said.