Saint John seeks provincial help with dog poop problem

Saint John city council is looking to the provincial government for help dealing with dog owners who don't clean up after their pets.

City does not have power to issue tickets to dog owners without changes to Municipalities Act

A motion to raise fines for Saint John dog owners who don't clean up after their pets fell flat during a city council meeting Monday night.

Coun. Bill Farren had suggested the idea of cracking down on errant owners.

Saint John Mayor Mel Norton says pet owners must act responsibly. (CBC)
"People were complaining about dog feces in the sand," he said.

Beaches, ball fields and parks are no place for dog waste to be left behind, said Farren.

Saint John already has a dog control bylaw that requires people to scoop dog poop or face fines of up to $2,100.

But city solicitor John Nugent told council no one has been fined.

"There's no opportunity to issue a ticket for a violation of the dog control bylaw," he said. The city does not have the power under provincial law.

Instead, the city would have to take violators to court, and present evidence to a judge, which is likely too complex and too costly when it comes to the poop and scoop issue, said Nugent.

Council has referred the matter to the provincial government as part of a larger push to give municipalities more power to hand out tickets for bylaw violations.

Changes to the Municpalities Act would be required.

Meanwhile, Mayor Mel Norton says citizens have a responsibility to maintain their property and public spaces.

"You better not let anyone from this council, including myself, or any bylaw enforcement officer, catch you," he said.

"It's unfair for the rest of our community to have anyone not being responsible for their pert. That's not the kind of community we are."

Coun. Shirley McAlary believes improved signage would help.

"Perhaps even some sexier signs saying please clean up after the pet that you love," she suggested.

Deputy Mayor Shelley Rhinehart says peer pressure works too.

"I don't think that raising the amount of the fine will make any difference, but shame sometimes does."