Illegal dumping in HRM in 2018. Photo: Crime Stoppers Credit: Crime Stoppers

With bylaw amendments headed to Halifax regional council on Tuesday, staff are proposing increased fines and enforcement to deter illegal dumping in the municipality.

The amendments to Bylaw S-600 Respecting Solid Waste Resource Collection and Disposal are before council for first reading. They add new language defining illegal dumping and litter, new powers for municipal compliance officers, and double the maximum fine from $5,000 to $10,000.

According to the attached staff report by Shannon Betts, diversion policy coordinator for Halifax’s solid waste department, the new amendments are meant to accomplish three goals:

  1. Place the municipality in a leadership role to address an issue of concern for residents and businesses;
  2. Reduce the burden on victims by holding more offenders accountable to remedy/clean-up; and
  3. Heighten the profile of enforcement activities to deter future violations/activity.

Betts wrote that the current bylaw doesn’t define illegal dumping, meaning it’s enforced through the provincial Environment Act by police officers or provincial enforcement officers.

Halifax Regional Police have issued an annual average of four tickets over the past three years, and the RCMP have issued an annual average of two, although the RCMP receive about 100 complaints per year.

“The proposed amendments to By-law S-600 will give municipal enforcement staff such as Municipal Compliance Officers or Diversion Officers the ability to issue summary offence tickets or lay charges more efficiently, over and above those currently facilitated by police resources,” Betts wrote.

The amendments also create a reverse onus system, something cribbed from Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s illegal dumping bylaw, where identifying information found in illegally-dumped waste, like a name on a utility bill, is used to determine the culprit. Then it’s on that person to prove they didn’t dump it.

“A person whose name or address are identified within waste that has been illegally dumped is deemed to be the owner of the waste,” Betts wrote.

“This section of the amendments allows 48 hours for the owner to provide the name of the person responsible for dumping the waste, otherwise they are responsible for the clean-up and resulting summary offence ticket if required.”

For citizens putting garbage at the curb, the bylaw amendments allow compliance officers to lay fines for waste left out too long before or after collection day.

For the commercial sector, the amendments require companies to clean up debris on their property and abutting properties and they require restaurants with drive-thru service to “provide the quantity of containers required to dispose of any waste generated by the service.”

The amendments are expected to increase the number of illegal dumping cases the municipality can solve, Betts wrote, but they’re also going to require added staff.

To start, that means one new diversion officer for $79,000, including salary and benefits. That new position is included in the 2021-2022 budget for Transportation and Public Works, Betts wrote.

If the amendments pass first reading on Tuesday, they’ll come back for second reading and then become law. Betts wrote that enforcement would start six months later.

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. Out here on the north mountain in Annapolis County, we are suffocating in illegally dumped, really nasty stuff. It comes from Halifax. We have a name for you urbanites. Hypocrites!

    We get Asbestos in contravention to Bylaw S-600, which says:
    16.3 No person shall export or remove solid waste material generated within the Municipality outside the boundaries of the Municipality…
    16.4 Notwithstanding subsection 16.3, the Municipality may export solid waste materials to licensed disposal facilities outside the boundaries of the Municipality only when the volumes of solid waste delivered to municipal facilities exceed the capacity of the facilities to handle the materials.
    16.5(b) says “solid waste” does not include hazardous waste materials. Hazardous is defined elsewhere as “waste listed or characterized as hazardous by any federal or provincial law;”

    So by sending us hazardous waste, you don’t observe your own by-law. The penalty is $5000,day. This has been going on since 2015. Five years at $5000,day is five million dollars.

    Send the check to Annapolis Waterkeepers.

    Gus Reed

  2. Someone dumped a whole bunch of garbage from a renovation onto my front lawn in HRM. I got a notice from Bylaw enforcement that I had to remove the garbage, I called and complained. An officer came right out and explained to me that, despite the fact that the garbage was not mine, I was still responsible for cleaning it up! Despite the fact that it was clear that the house next door was undergoing renovations and had exceeded their monthly quota of garbage! Thankfully the officer, who was great, offered to knock on their door and ask if the garbage was theirs, and they admitted that it was and removed it from my property. So those reverse onus bylaws already exist.

  3. One wonders why people are dumping waste at all. Does the city garbage collection not suit them? Maybe they should be allowed to opt out of the city’s garbage program (with that cost deducted from their taxes) and come to an arrangement with a private contractor that better suits their needs.

  4. “Then it’s on that person to prove they didn’t dump it.” There’s good intentions with this proposed law, but our charter says to the effect that the burden of truth lies with the prosecution, in most legal matters. In other words, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and isn’t required to prove their innocence as a meaning of being found “not guilty”. I’m not sure if the same applies to summary offences (i.e. finable offences), but I could see this leading to a charter challenge.

  5. Did you mean to finish this sentence “For citizens putting garbage at the curb, the bylaw amendments” or delete it? 🙂