Thunder Bay

Shopping cart regulations work in other cities and might be on their way to Thunder Bay

Near big box retailers and grocery stores, they can pile up, sometimes literally, on public property.

Business owner complained to city council last fall about carts on Memorial Avenue

City councillors in Thunder Bay, Ont., will hear later this year about how a bylaw could be written to deal with abandoned shopping carts. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

For those people shopping at big-box retailers or grocery store who don't have a car or truck in the parking lot, their shopping carts are a means to getting to their final destination be that a nearby bus stop or further afield.

Those shopping carts are then abandoned and can start to pile up, sometimes on public property.

City councillors in Thunder Bay will hear later this year how the city could implement a bylaw dealing with nuisance carts, by examining other cities in the province, like Kitchener, that have a shopping cart bylaw.

The bylaw in Kitchener allows a shopping cart to be abandoned for no more than 24 hours. After that, bylaw officers can 'tag' the cart and tell the retailer that it belongs to, to go pick it up.

"[We've] seen great success with it. I'm not saying that we still don't find shopping carts, or still get complaints from time to time about shopping carts, but we just don't have the proliferation of them like we did," said Gloria MacNeil, the director of bylaw enforcement with the City of Kitchener.

"I think the fact that we're watching, and we're calling them and making them be responsible for them has actually required a lot of those businesses to start hiring people to come in and do that, come in a drive around every couple of days."

MacNeil said many stores now have staff that drive around every couple of days, and pick up carts to bring them back to the store. Some have also installed wheel locks, to make it more difficult for carts to leave the shop's parking lot.

Also, the Kitchener bylaw has a provision that if a retailer refuses to pick up its carts, after being instructed by bylaw, the business can be issued a summons to appear in court and be fined. So far, that hasn't happened, MacNeil said.

MacNeil said in some instances, the city has also picked up the carts, but dismantles them for recycling or garbage. She said with the carts being relatively expensive; most retailers would rather pick them up themselves.


Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.