Edmonton councillors to consider stronger fines for littering

A new report set to go before councillors Wednesday looks at how litter is handled in Edmonton and where the city help reduce it.

Report says there’s merit to increasing private land dumping fines

The report identifies several areas for improvement in the fight against litter. (Anna McMillan/CBC)

A new report set to go before councillors Wednesday looks at how Edmonton can reduce litter. 

The report reviewing littering bylaws and programs was requested at a city council meeting in September. One ask was that administration check the feasibility of increasing fines for public littering.

Littering in public spaces or on private land in Edmonton carries a fine of $250.

In municipalities examined in the report, littering fines ranged from $50 for a first offence in Regina and up to $25,000 for third or subsequent offences by a corporation in Saskatoon. In Calgary, litter on the street or from a vehicle can yield a person a fine between $500 and $750.

Administration says it "sees some merit" to increasing the fine for dumping on private land.

"I know that's a problem for some people, especially in more rural areas," Coun. Sarah Hamilton, who sits on the urban community and public services committee set to receive the report, said in a phone interview Friday. 

Coun. Aaron Paquette, whose motion led to the review, said construction debris has been a major source of complaint in his neighbourhood. He said he's also seen an increase in the volume of calls about dumping.

"I've got a lot of rural [areas] in my ward and people just go out and they dump appliances, chairs, or just construction waste," Paquette said, adding that the economy has a part to play.

"If you're faced with possibly spending $50 to take something to a dump or you just dump it on a back road, if you don't have the money or you feel you don't have the money, you might just choose to dump it."

'Some really good programs'

The report going to council's community and public services committee makes no recommendations beyond being received for information. But Paquette said it's a foundation for further action.

"Part of the effort that we're going to be making … is that we actually have some really good programs like Capital City Cleanup," he said. "What we're going to be doing is drilling down into those, maybe even funding them more and encouraging the community to become part of the solution."

Capital City Clean Up is a litter reduction and graffiti prevention program first started in 2005. The program organizes litter pick-up events and provides supplies to residents, community groups and businesses.

The report says the program is doing research for a new litter campaign, which includes targeting specific audiences using social marketing.

Administration outlines several other areas to help reduce litter, including developing programming with local non-profit organizations and proactive enforcement campaigns. The report also notes administration is leading an initiative to redevelop bin design and placement.

A litter audit released in October found a decrease of about 25 per cent from 2018.