The brunt of the responsibility has to be put on the shoulders of businesses to deal with the large number of shopping carts littered throughout the city, according to councillors.
Abandoned grocery carts have potential to create hazardous situations, not to mention they are “esthetically displeasing,” as stated in a motion presented by Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino. The city will continue to monitor the situation, but it will also embark on an awareness program to inform shopping cart users not to remove them from store premises. Staff has been directed to investigate options of dealing with the situation, including the possibility of establishing a bylaw. Options will be presented to the city's policy committee by the end of the month.
The city will continue to allow residents to call 311 to report abandoned shopping carts. That information is then forwarded to either the store owner or a cart retrieval company. City waste collection staff also regularly make note of abandoned carts, and that information is also forwarded to owners or to retrieval companies.
The awareness campaign will include information in a corporate communication newsletter, on the city's website and as public service announcement. Notices will be posted at local stores and on the shopping carts themselves.
“We're dealing with shopping carts?” Ward 6 Coun. Andre Rivest questioned. “This should be brought to businesses and let them deal with it.”
He also pointed out that three staff members were assigned to review the matter of abandoned carts, and expressed amazement that the city would dedicate that much effort into an issue with which it shouldn't even be dealing.
Those three staff members sought out bylaws imposed in other cities. Markham, Mississauga and Guelph each have their own bylaws regarding shopping carts. Bylaws included requirements that carts be identified with a company name and message that carts should not be removed from the store premises, and a mandate that retailers have a plan to prevent cart removal, or a removal plan with fines or penalties for failing to enforce the bylaw.
More onus has to be put on businesses to ensure carts don't leave the premises, Cimino said. For example, he suggested businesses institute practices where customers have to pay to access a cart.
Abandoned shopping carts are a “blight” on the city's landscape, he said.
“This needs to be a co-operative effort, and we need to educate people not to bring carts off the property. This is about image. I have received calls from residents, and if it's an issue with them, then it's an issue with us.”
Posted by Heidi Ulrichsen