Nova Scotia

Halifax considers bylaw that would mean fines for unwanted flyer delivery

Companies distributing flyers to homes that have opted out of receiving them could face fines of $250 under a proposed bylaw.

Municipal report suggests printing 'No Flyers' stickers for residents to use

The proposed bylaw would prohibit anyone from throwing flyers onto people's lawns and from leaving them at households with 'No Flyers' signs. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Companies distributing flyers to homes in the Halifax region that have opted out of receiving them could face fines of $250 under a proposed bylaw being recommended by municipal officials.

Halifax regional council will deliberate new rules around where and when flyers can be left at people's homes.

"The vast majority of people that I hear from don't want the waste," said Coun. Lisa Blackburn, who represents Middle/Upper Sackville-Beaver Bank-Lucasville. "They don't want the garbage and they want it to stop."

Dropping flyers off at the end of a driveway would no longer be allowed and distributors would be prohibited from delivering to homes displaying a sign or sticker indicating flyers are not wanted.

Individual contractors violating the bylaw could be ticketed $25 and companies $250.

Blackburn said she frequently hears from fed-up residents who report calling distributors multiple times to try to cancel flyers, but still the plastic bags at the end of their driveway.

Under the proposed bylaw, people and businesses could place flyers in mail boxes or slots or at a doorstep. They couldn't be left on driveways or anywhere flyers have accumulated for two weeks. 

"This way people who like their flyers — and there are plenty of people out there who do — they can still get their flyers, but those who don't want them can say I don't want them and now there's some teeth to back up that request," Blackburn said.

Some residents fed up

Part of the rationale is the number of complaints the municipality has received from residents who say they're fed up with flyers piling up on their property or becoming litter when it rains and snows.

Other Canadian cities including Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal have already passed bylaws restricting flyer delivery

Blackburn said the current delivery method in rural and suburban areas can even be a hazard for people who inadvertently suck flyers up into their snowblowers. "Usually after a winter storm I'll get three or four phone calls from residents who have ruined snowblowers or just want to gripe about the fact that the flyers were tossed in the driveway."

She expects to bring forward the motion to consider the bylaw at Tuesday's council meeting.

Halifax is considering restricting flyer and ad mail delivery, potentially joining other Canadian cities that give residents the option of vetoing the uninvited paper clogging up their recycling bins. (Shutterstock)

A year ago, council commissioned a staff report on flyer distribution that found the municipality can't ban flyer delivery entirely since distributors are able to exercise freedom of expression.  

The report said a flyer box pilot project by the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the primary distributor of flyers in the municipality, has resulted in 26,600 fewer plastic bags being used. 

The Herald has installed six flyer boxes close to community mailboxes where people can pick up flyers.

Like Blackburn, Coun. David Hendsbee would like to see more flyer drop boxes throughout the municipality. One is now located within Hendsbee's district in Seaforth and he said he's heard from residents who are pleased with it.

"It works perfectly," he said. "They were very appreciative of having it. Plus it's easy to pick up them up when they're picking up their mail. "

He said spring cleanups show that all too often flyers are found in ditches or are left at the end of driveways for months during the winter.

A mock-up of a sticker that could be made available to residents. (Halifax.ca)

The report also suggested the municipality create "No Flyers" stickers for residents that could be available at events, recreation centres, libraries and through councillors.

Money for the stickers would come out of the solid-waste budget and the idea would be to initially print 10,000. People could also post their own signs.

The bylaw wouldn't apply to election material, newspaper subscriptions, information circulated by government or politicians.

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