People who carelessly flick away a cigarette butt or spit out a piece of chewing gum in downtown Montreal could be in for an expensive surprise.
As part of a continuing fight to clean up the downtown core, bylaw inspectors in the borough of Ville Marie are training their sights on people who foul downtown sidewalks.
With fines of up to $125 for a first offence, the bylaw has bite.
The borough has handed out more than $1 million in fines to people and businesses that littered in violation of the cleanliness rules since they went into effect last year. Benôit Labonté, the borough's mayor, said it's clear the crackdown is working, though there is still much to do.
Labonté said there will be enforcement blitzes by police, and to make sure the word gets out that the targets include cigarette butts and chewing gum, the borough has taken its campaign to the internet, with a video on YouTube and a group on Facebook, the popular social networking site.
But Labonté said that while the borough will strictly enforce the bylaw, the goal is not to swell its coffers with more fines.
"Our objective at the end of the process — two, three, four years from now — is to give less and less tickets because behaviours regarding cleanliness will be much better," Labonté said. "So our goal is not to increase the number of tickets or fines, it's to decrease it."
Labonté said the money collected from fines goes into a special cleanliness fund, not into the borough's general coffers.
He says there will be 13 inspectors on the streets again this year, along with a special clean-up crew to make sure Montreal's downtown core remains attractive to people who live and visit the city.
About 60 per cent of the tickets handed out last year went to businesses, with individuals accounting for the remainder.