A proposal to fine Vernon retailers for not providing theft proctection for shopping carts may be pulled off the table at Monday’s regular meeting of city council. (Black Press - file photo)

Vernon likely won’t fine retailers for abandoned shopping carts

Council to debate recommendation to vote against fining retailers for not using theft protection

City of Vernon retailers who choose not to use theft protection on commercial shopping carts may not be fined.

City staff is recommending council not proceed with such a plan following meetings, either in-person or via phone, with 12 major retailers on the subject.

Council of the day passed, in July 2018, a number of recommendations from the city-created Activate Safety Task Force in regards to shopping carts, including:

* the city require, by bylaw, retailers to use theft protection on commercial shopping carts;

* retailers dispose of decommissioned shopping carts at their own expense;

* retailers recover abandoned shopping carts when identified;

* that bylaw is to enforce regulations pertaining to commercial shopping carts through for a fine for (repeated) non-compliance;

* banning commercial shopping carts on public property in the City of Vernon;

* that the city, through the Community Safety Office, partners and bylaw work constructively with retailers and local focus populations to find feasible solutions to the shopping cart issue.

RELATED: B.C. Civil Liberties Association upset with Vernon shopping cart ban proposal

The banning of commercial shopping carts on public property in the city was later repealed, and staff was directed to bring forward information obtained from a consultation process with social agencies and “the retailers whom utilize shopping carts…in regards to recovery, disposal, theft protection and potential fines for the regulation of shopping carts in the City of Vernon.”

RELATED: Vernon council votes down shopping cart ban

“Major retailers within the city were contacted for a discussion regarding their experiences with shopping cart theft,” wrote Geoffrey Gaucher, the city’s manager of protective services, in a report to be discussed at Vernon council Monday. “Face-to-face interviews were conducted with the store managers at both locations of Safeway and both locations of Save On Foods. The remaining retailers were engaged through telephone calls.”

The other retailers contacted included Buy Low Foods; Home Depot; London Drugs; Rona; Real Canadian Wholesale Club; Shoppers Drug Mart (downtown); Real Canadian Superstore; Walmart.

Safeway and Save On Foods were the most vocal, according to Gaucher’s report.

The downtown Safeway report that lost/stolen carts cost the sore $350 to replace, and lose “10-to-13 carts per week.” The carts currently have no locking mechanisms but are chained together at night and padlocked.

Vernon Square Safeway reports it loses two-to-three carts per week.

Safeway stores utilize the services of Western Cart to return their shopping carts from streets, lanes and lots as well as from the City of Vernon operations yard.

“The Safeway managers wondered why police were doing nothing to retrieve the stolen carts,” wrote Gaucher. “They are further upset by the notion that the victims (retailers) are likely to be punished by a city bylaw but not the thieves.”

Managers “vigorously” denied leaving shopping carts to be taken as opposed to being recycled, as did both managers at the two Save On Foods in the Village Green Centre and The Shops at Polson Park.

Save On Foods said all carts are locked up overnight with chains and padlocks and they have not reported any bulk thefts similar to those reported by Safeway. They do report the loss/theft of approximately 100 carts in 2018 which cost more than $25,000 to replace ($250 per cart).

Said one Save On Foods manager, with respect to the potential of being fined under a bylaw: “Now the city wants to fines businesses when there are abandoned shopping carts around town? I am a tax-paying business that is being stolen from and you want to fine the victim instead of the people who committed the crime?”


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