- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

We are a city of rule-followers. We know that we "shouldn't litter" and we "should" put our garbage out on the right day. We presume that landlords too are rule-followers, obeying the City's Property Standards by-law.

The issue of garbage and litter was in some municipal candidates' platforms in 2014, referring to litter as one of the reasons we have empty storefronts and people eschuing downtown shopping.

Earlier this year, the city's Operations Advisory Committee recommended the now famous green stickers that warn residents about putting their household garbage in publc bins, or else.

We appear to have limited staff on weekends to either empty downtown garbage or enforce the fine.  The attractive picture above was taken on Labour Day Monday, right in front of a building owned by multi-property Owen Sound landlord. A resident claims that the landlord is not complying with our City's property standards by-law - Every multiple dwelling shall have provided on the same lot therewith, whether inside or outside of a building, an area designated for the temporary storage of garbage and rubbish.

But it is easier to blame the tenants - not the landlords, not the City policies and procedures or staffing, not those in SUVs and company trucks that I have personally watched drop garbage bags. No, we focus on the people who live above stores, who clearly wouldn't be able to pay a $1000 fine anyway. When it is hot and humid and there is nowhere to put garbage or recycling outside your apartment, a $10,000 fine would not be a deterrent to getting garbage out of your living space.

The company truck driver could afford the $1000 fine, but he knows that even though I saw him do it, odds are verythismeansyou good that no by-law enforcer would either see it, or be able to prove it was his "household" garbage if they did.

Virtually noone's household is close to the Visitors' Centre in the former CNR station on 1st Ave West, sitting as it does in the middle of a huge parking lot across from the empty former BCK lot. So who might have been putting their household waste and flyers in the garbage bins there that prompted these charming notes that greet tourists and museum visitors?  I'd say cherchez l'homme avec le camion.

We know what we should do and not do. And we're angry that some people are not following the rules. We are not the first or only place to have these problems.

What are the best strategies to get the outcomes we want? 

What works? I challenge you to spend an hour or two of your internet time Googling some solutions and we'll share them on the Hub and with candidates for council. Use your powers for good!






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