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Garbage dumped outside for weeks sparks calls for improved bylaw enforcement

Torn-up couches, scattered trash and mattresses propped up against tree trunks have become all-too-familiar sights for Caroline Taylor — and the west-end resident says the amount of garbage being left on city curbs for weeks on end is growing everyday.

It's everywhere in the core neighbourhoods. It's everywhere in the vulnerable neighbourhoods. Garbage needs to be picked up and it's never picked up," she said.

For Taylor, the issue has worsened in recent years.Concerns about garbage dumped outside for weeks in Windsor, Ont., on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor)

During the most recent Open Streets event, Taylor and husband took multiple photos of trash being left outside along their path.

She said low-income populations and international students, including many who occupy Windsor's Ward 2 where she lives, are less likely to reach out to the city's 311 service.

"They're not about to lodge a complaint regarding dumping or furniture on the sidewalk or garbage that's not picked up. They will just walk by it and ignore it," said Taylor.

"There's also more and more properties that are sold to these landlords who do not live in the city and do not look after their properties."

According to Craig Robertson, the city's senior licensing and enforcement manager, the summer season sees an increase in the number of complaints submitted to 311.

"When it comes to garbage preparation, we've looked at our bylaw enforcement resources and how we currently provide those services across the public," said Robertson.Items on the curb in Windsor, Ont. (Source: Caroline Taylor)

"We recognize there may be a need to look at how those resources are deployed across the city and the wards, based on 311 data and complaints that come in."

While residents are asked to call 311 to arrange the removal of large furniture, Robertson said various factors such as summer staff vacations and increased social issues — including abandoned encampments and alley scavenging — have resulted in a backlog of complaints.

The result, in some cases, is large furniture remaining on Windsor's streets for weeks — and even months — on end.

"So that's become a challenge and a resource issue," said Robertson.

Following a question raised by Ward 4 city councillor Mark McKenzie, administration is expected to report back on how the city could make improve bylaw enforcement and improve its efficiency.

Those options, McKenzie said, include more investment and a move toward proactive bylaw enforcement. Currently, enforcement of bylaws is complaint-based.

"Leamington has had proactive bylaw enforcement for a while now. It's gone so well that they now have bylaw enforcement on bikes in the spring and summer," said McKenzie.

"So they actually go up and down the streets and talk to the residents. It's more of an educational piece."

McKenzie said he would like to see the City of Windsor replicate a similar model.

"Our bylaw enforcement officers are getting about 80 to 100 complaints a day. With the amount of officers we have, they're only able to tackle 50 to 60 a day," said McKenzie.

That report is expected to go back to council by the end of this year, McKenzie added, noting the recommendations would be implemented by next spring.

Those improvements could not come soon enough for Taylor.

"There are a lot of kids in this neighborhood that play around this garbage and are literally playing on top of the garbage. It's dangerous to our mental health, to our environment and to the infrastructure," she said.

"Homeowners are tired. This is unacceptable. Our children deserve better."

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