Some residents had better clean up their act — the city has started to fine citizens who fail to pull garbage or recycling bins back onto their property after pickup.
It’s hoped the tickets will change the behaviour of residents who continue to leave their bins out in the back lane.
"I’m sure once people start getting wind of fines being around, they’ll know that we’re serious and they’ll be a little more compliant," city public works director Ian Broome said.
City rules apply to residences with front street pickup too, but Broome said the problems have been in the back lane.
Under city bylaw, residents are to place their bin in the back laneway no more than 12 hours prior to collection day, and must return bins to their property no more than 24 hours after collection.
When they’re not in the lane, bins are to be stored on the property.
The city has a three-strikes approach to enforcement.
Sanitation staff patrol for scofflaws who leave their bins in the lane outside the time frame for collection.
A staff member even patrols on Saturdays to cover properties that have their refuse regularly collected on Fridays.
Warnings are mailed to the property owner for the first two offences. For a third offence, bylaw officers are notified and a fine issued.
The fine is $50, but that is cut in half to $25 if the penalty is paid within 15 days. The fine for the fourth offence is $100, or $50 when paid within 15 days.
The notices are mailed to property owners, not tenants. It’s also the property owner who is handed the fine.
So it’s up to landlords to make sure their tenants abide by the rules, Broome said.
The city started mailing out warning notices to offenders as of Nov. 1.
By late December, 250 to 300 homes had received letters of warning.
As of now, the owners of 1,098 properties have received notices or fines.
No specific figure was available for the number of fines handed out so far.
In November, the city switched to a four-day collection cycle which means residents have their garbage and recycling collected on the same day every week.
Despite that consistency, Broom said, some confusion remains.
For example, some people with regular Friday collection mistakenly believed that they had all weekend to bring in their bins.
There are a couple of areas where properties have narrow sets of steps that make it difficult, if not impossible, for residents to haul bins to and from back lane.
The city is working with those residents to find a solution, Broome said.
He said the city also offers a service which moves bins to and fro on behalf of seniors and other citizens who aren’t physically capable of rolling or hauling the bins.
About two dozen citizens use that service.
Broome said the regulations are intended to ensure that sanitation staff aren’t wasting their time dumping bins that aren’t full.
That frees up time to provide other services such as a new composting program that collects household and organic material from city homes.