The Township of Langley is looking to implement a shopping cart bylaw that would put the responsibility for abandoned carts on the businesses that own them.
On Monday evening (Nov. 21), council gave first, second and third reading to the bylaw, which has been drafted in response to a “significant increase” in the number of unsightly carts being found in public areas and roadsides.
Currently, abandoned carts are being removed and stored at the Township’s Operations yard at no cost to the owners, or as a courtesy, are returned to the businesses by staff.
But under this new bylaw, those who remove a shopping cart will be fined $100, business who allow their carts to be removed will be fined $100 and those who are caught abandoning a shopping cart will also be fined $100.
The purpose of this new bylaw, according to the staff report, is to “provide a regulatory process and an enforcement tool in addressing abandoned shopping carts.” It is also meant to mirror similar undertakings by the City of Langley.
The Township’s hope is that more businesses will be encouraged to install loss prevention measures to reduce theft, such as wheel locking or coin locking mechanisms. According to the report, many retailers are not doing this, as only four out of 20 businesses surveyed by Township staff currently have these measures in place.
Coun. Kim Richter noted that many of the stolen shopping carts are taken by homeless people, who do not have the means to pay a $100 fine.
Mayor Jack Froese responded that homeless people, too, are subject to the same laws as everyone else, and that they aren’t the only ones removing shopping carts.
Coun. Petrina Arnason said she is not sure if the bylaw is the “right solution to the problem,” and that perhaps more research should be done first.
“I just find this a bit premature,” she said.
Ramin Seifi, Township general manager of engineering and community development, added that it is abandoned carts that are more the issue than stolen ones that are being used by people to carry their things.
Langley City mayor Ted Schaffer said solving the shopping cart problem will require coordinated action by the City and Township to be effective.
Schaffer isn’t sure about the just-announced new Township regulations.
“We want to get some more information before we jump in on it,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer thinks requiring businesses to use shopping carts with wheels that lock up when they are taken from a parking lot might be a better approach than picking up and storing stolen buggies after they’ve been taken.
Businesses could be doing more to corral stray carts, Schaffer added.
“I don’t know why a store doesn’t want to pick them up.”
He said the City has been pressing for measures to limit the use of the shopping carts by the homeless for about two years.
While neither the city nor the township could provide estimates of the overall number of abandoned carts, the city reported the numbers can be substantial, citing the example of one homeless person who was found in possession of 12 carts last week at the Salvation Army Gateway of Hope.
— with files from Dan Ferguson