CENTRE WELLINGTON – Those caught littering in Centre Wellington can now face a fine as council approved a new bylaw at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Satnam Chauhan, municipal law enforcement officer, presented the proposed bylaw and told council members that the town does not currently have a legal recourse for people who litter or illegally dump.
They could only clean it on township property or issue a clean-up order on private property.
“We drafted the proposed bylaw to keep accountable those that choose to forgo responsible disposal of their waste on to someone else’s property, making it their issue,” Chauhan said.
Proposed fines for littering or dumping on private or public property are $150. Fines are increased to $450 for offenses on environmentally protected lands or in waterways.
These amounts are suggestions and will be finalized at a later date.
Chauhan stressed this isn’t a foolproof plan and will require assistance from the public in reporting.
“With the help of the public and our enforcement tools, staff will be able to provide an avenue to hold these illegal dumpers accountable,” Chauhan said.
Councillor Neil Dunsmore noted that this is a particular problem in Centre Wellington.
“We have a lot of litter going on and I see pictures of our trailheads and roadways that are covered with litter and people have seen them do it,” Dunsmore said.
He then asked about the procedure for resident complaints as it will be difficult for Chauhan to enforce fully himself as the only municipal officer.
Chauhan said residents should contact him with their complaints especially if they have a description of a person or a licence plate.
He explained they are going through a process to get access to an MTO database that can identify vehicle owners from their licence plates.
Councillor Bob Foster asked how different types of litter are treated such as those that are naturally decaying.
“If someone were eating an apple and they threw the apple core out, given that it’s organic, would that be included in the definition of refuse?” Foster asked. “An apple core is not the same as a pop can.”
Legal consultant Paul Dray said it technically would be considered the same but this is where officer discretion comes in.
“I think you would apply a different standard to someone who threw an apple core than someone who dumped three tires,” Dray said.