Lethbridge city council decided not to look into options for dealing with abandoned shopping carts at its July 5 meeting. A motion brought forward by Councillor John Middleton-Hope would have requested city administration consult with business owners on shopping cart theft and look at options for services to retrieve carts.
“This is an issue of public safety,” Middleton-Hope said. “It degrades our community. The reason why this motion is coming forward is because I have received several complaints from property owners, businesses as well as private landowners in the north end of the city in particular.”
Middleton-Hope said business owners should be responsible for carts and if the city has to return the stolen property, the owners should pay for it. He said it is not a good use of resources to have police deal with abandoned carts.
“This is a significant problem and simply ignoring it and allowing it to continue simply furthers this as a crime and disorder issue in our community. It’s unsightly, it’s unsafe, it’s unhealthy and it is a problem,” he said.
City staff said residents with complaints about abandoned shopping carts can call 311 and they will be directed to the cart’s owner or a retrieval company to deal with it.
“The owners of the carts are responsible for them, there is a service, there is still active cart pickup service so I think what I have heard today is that we are trying to address a problem that really doesn’t exist,” said Coun. Jeff Carlson.
Middleton-Hope said the cart issue is closely related to homelessness and as part of his motion, he wanted to look at safe storage, such as lockers for people experiencing homelessness.
Mayor Blaine Hyggen questioned city staff on the progress of safe storage. He was told staff are working with the province and Alpha House, but there is no noteworthy progress. Mike Fox, director of community services, said Alpha House does provide storage for two bags for shelter users.
Coun. Belinda Crowson noted better communication on how to deal with shopping carts could be helpful, rather than a new idea. Middleton-Hope’s motion was defeated with a 5-4 vote.
“These shopping carts are an annoyance, they impact the quality of life of several members of our community and I think we have a responsibility to take some form of action,” he said, closing the debate.