More fines may be coming for Regina litterers and people who don't pick up their trash. City council voted Thursday to ask city administration to bring back a report in the fall about enforcement options against landlords and tenants not keeping their properties clean.
"We can see the garbage in the back lanes and we know that these are beautiful neighbourhoods that deserve to look beautiful," Mayor Sandra Masters said.
The idea to clean up Regina's neighbourhoods was brought forward by councillors Andrew Stevens and Dan LeBlanc. Both emphasized problem areas in their wards, North Central and Heritage, respectfully.
"My biggest issue with the status quo in some respects is how reactive it is, and this is meant to make our response more proactive," Stevens said during the meeting. "I'm asking for a more rigorous enforcement of what we have."
The report will identify strategies for fines and prosecution for illegal dumping, repeat violations, littering and more on private and public property. It will also look at giving bylaw officers more ticketing powers, empowering waste-pickup crews with enforcement options and more frequent garbage pickups in problem areas.
The motion originally also asked that the report look at more needle pickup sites, but that's already in the works separately by city administration.
LeBlanc said it's important to not demonize people who live in North Central and Heritage. He said it's important to try to help those who are doing things right but are impacted by others.
"At some point the fines have to be focused on disciplining or punishing landlords who are making our communities dangerous or dirty," LeBlanc said.
People addressed council with their own situations and troubles. Orion Paradis has lived in the Heritage neighbourhood for years beside what he calls three slumlord properties. Paradis said he often spends his free time picking up garbage that has blown onto his land.
"I'm sure that you can all agree that if this were your homes and families on the line, you would feel exactly the same frustration and despair that is currently rippling through the inner city."
Paradis said he's complained to the city for months and tried to get the landlord to clean up his property's trash, litter and needles. He said city staff have been empathetic and use the tools they can, but there needs to be more enforcement tools.
Misty Wentzel, owner of Further Down Dance Studio, a rental property and a home in the Heritage neighbourhood, said the city needs to empower community members with a voice to help shape the neighbourhood to be clean and healthy for all ages.
"For the last 10 years we have watched the trash situation go steadily downhill. We did not used to live in a dump," she said.
Wentzel said some in the area are vulnerable, with additions or other issues, and she would rather see safe housing or a safe injection site than landlords not keeping homes up to standard. She said landlords need to be held to account for repeat infractions.
"It really makes me wonder if the city simply does not feel the residents of Heritage matter as much as people from other neighbourhoods. I know this isn't the truth many would care to admit, but the double standards are truly hard to take."