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Abandoned shopping carts can’t be resolved by bylaw, Red Deer city council heard

Council defeated changes that would have led to unproductive impoundment fees
Stolen and abandoned shopping carts are not a problem that could be solved by City of Red Deer bylaws. (Advocate file photo)

The problem of people stealing shopping carts and leaving them around Red Deer’s parks and trails has not been solved by city council.

But then, a solution hasn’t been found by any other community either, said Coun. Victor Doerksen on Tuesday.

He voted along with the rest of council to defeat a previously introduced amendment to the Community Standards Bylaw that could have charged an impound fee for shopping carts.

The amendment would not have achieved what it was set out to do, said Erin Stuart, general manager of the Development Services. She had recommended councillors defeat the change introduced last spring.

The point was to reunite businesses with their lost carts. But charging businesses an impound fee for recovering the carts, as was considered, would not be a popular or productive move, said Stuart.

She noted parks workers and other city staff who see an abandoned shopping cart while carrying out their duties will take it back to the civic yards anyway.

And these carts are eventually returned to the stores they come from — without a fee.

The cost to the city for this is minimal since municipal workers are removing the carts while going about their daily duties, said Stuart.

Coun. Vesna Higham spoke about the frustration of seeing people doing illegal things without being able to stop them.

But several other city councillors discussed the difficulty of trying to charge homeless people for using shopping carts to transport their belonging: It would be difficult to collect a penalty fine from people with no income, and a court summons cannot be sent to someone without an address.

Coun. Cindy Jefferies said “I like that as an organization we can say, ‘We’ve gone down the wrong track on this’,” and switch gears instead of continuing towards approving a problematic bylaw amendment.