By Dianne Pinder-Moss
Taken From Discover Smithsfalls Website
Councillor Jim Boldt is stepping into the issue of dog poop on downtown streets.
At the Feb. 23 regular meeting of Perth Town Council, he brought up what he called a “stinky subject” of people letting their dogs defecate on town properties and not cleaning it up. In particular, he made mention of the downtown.
“I’m finding it on the main street (Gore) a lot,” he mentioned.
In a later email to the HomeTown News, Boldt said he has had a number of complaints on this issue in the past couple of years.
“It is an issue that is very hard to enforce because a bylaw officer has to catch someone ignoring the bylaw while their dog is doing their business,” he noted.
According to Eric Cosens, the town’s Director of Development and Protective Services, there are currently two bylaws that could apply to those who are negligent in cleaning up after their animals. He says the primary bylaw is 3557, which is the Animal Control Bylaw and establishes a set fine. The enforcement officer can issue a ticket of $75 for people who fail to remove dog waste from public or private property.
The second bylaw that could potentially apply, states Cosens, is Littering Bylaw 2107. It establishes a range of possible fines depending on whether the incident is a first, second or third offence with fines ranging from $20 to $250.
However, as Cosens points out, this bylaw is more than 40 years old, “such that there is no ability to issue tickets. As such, the enforcing officer would issue a summons at the time of the offence for the alleged offender to appear in Provincial Offences Court.”
The Town’s animal control officer reports to Fire Chief Steve Fournier who has advised, Cosens says, that no ticket has been issued for a “poop and scoop” infraction in the past two years.
“This arises from enforcement procedures and practicality,” the director explained, noting that to issue a ticket, the animal control officer has to witness the offence.
“So on the practical side, it is not an activity that is going to be ‘caught very often,” Cosens continued. “When it is observed, the officer has, and regularly employs, the discretion to give the offender a chance to ‘poop and scoop’ voluntarily in lieu of receiving a ticket. I am of the understanding that everyone caught in that situation recently has opted to clean up after their animal.”
To address the problem, which he said was becoming “disgusting,” Boldt was emphatic at the council meeting that “we have got to put some muscle of some kind into the bylaw.”
“I believe we have to increase fines and make this act publicly unacceptable just like smoking in a public place,” he stated after the meeting in his email response. “If people became more pro-active when they see people not scooping poop and made them feel bad about it, we might see an improvement in this area.”
Likewise, Boldt believes public awareness on this issue is a way “to bring it to the forefront.”
Kari Clarke, co-ordinator of the Perth BIA, says the BIA has received a few complaints about dog “deposits” downtown.
“The BIA is working with the Town of Perth to determine the best way to resolve this issue,” she stated.
Cosens is part of a team of managers looking into various aspects of the issue in conjunction with the BIA and developing a strategy, he says “to try and more pro-actively manage this issue.”