By Tristan Marks
Litter along West Lincoln road sides has become an increasing issue, say members of township council.
At Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting council reviewed several issues, including a spate of recent complaints about flyer/newspaper deliveries not getting into mailboxes and the wider issue of litter across the township.
A motion was introduced by Coun. Jason Trombetta as a response to complaints that he had received from residents in Ward 1 that a large number of flyer bags delivered ended up in the road or ditches.
His motion proposed the following:
• That, staff be and are hereby directed to contact those businesses that deliver weekly flyers and newspapers to homes in the rural area of West Lincoln; and,
• That, these businesses and/or their delivery people be requested to immediately stop using plastic bags to deliver flyers and/or newspapers at the end of driveways; and,
• That, henceforth all flyers and/or newspapers delivered in the rural area of West Lincoln be placed in mailboxes only to reduce litter along rural roads.
Jamie Wichartz, CEO of Deliveries Unlimited, the Smithville-based flyer delivery company contracted with delivering flyer bundles including for NewsNow, voiced his concern with the blanket nature of motion.
“Whenever we can, we deliver directly to the mailbox,” Wichartz said.
“However, there are instances in rural areas such as Wellandport, St. Ann’s and Grassie where a small portion of their residents get their Canada Post mail from a locked box. In those cases, we have no choice but to throw our bagged sets into driveways.”
Wichartz added that his company is always careful to respect the wishes of residents with “no flyer” requests.
His concern was two-fold. First, he took exception with his company being painted in the same brush as his competition whom he said were typically the culprits behind complaints once investigated. Secondly, he noted that the motion as written would “effectively cut off” around 300 residents from receiving local news due the blanket ban.
Later in the meeting Trombetta said he understood Wichartz concerns and that the motion he presented was less about the specific actions and more about prompting a discussion of the topic at the meeting.
“This isn’t necessarily what I want to happen, but I need to put together something for a motion so that it could be discussed,” Trombetta said.
“The ditches are messed up with all sort of garbage, not just these flyers.”
Coun. Harold Jonker said Wichartz had a good point about not cutting off rural residents without mailboxes, and suggested that the Township ought to look into “reaching out” to residents about litter clean-up.
Coun. Cheryl Ganann concurred.
“I think that encouraging people to clean up more is our best bet,” Ganann said.
Coun. William Reilly confirmed what Wichartz said about mailbox delivery.
“NewsNow and all the flyers that come with it seem to make it to my mailbox each week,” Reilly said.
Reilly said the issue with flyer litter largely stems from the plastic bags they come in. He suggested the township look into requesting that delivery companies adopt alternative containers, and even reaching out to the Region for a Niagara-wide initiative in this direction.
CAO Bev Hendry pointed out that the township “doesn’t necessarily know” all the flyer delivery companies, and that some might even be based outside of Niagara.
Mayor Dave Bylsma added that calling companies like Torstar and Metroland often contacts “an offshore office.”
Coun. Shelley Bradaric suggested that the Township look into adopting a “sticker system” like some other municipalities, where residents who do not want flyer/newspaper deliveries can request a special sticker for their property from the township. Wichartz said after the meeting his company already supplies such stickers to anyone who wants one.
Coun. Mike Rehner said that the true problem had nothing to do with flyers.
“I walk my dog every morning for six miles,” Rehner said. “I have yet to find a flyer or something covered in plastic, but I find beer cans and other garbage out of the wazoo.”
In the end, council voted unanimously to refer the motion with Hendry noting it could go to the recently formed ‘Green Team’ for research and a later recommendation.