Puslinch wants more enforcement against illegal fill operations

PUSLINCH – Councillors are asking for additional bylaw enforcement measures to address illegal fill operations in 2024.

During a discussion about items to be considered for the 2024 budget, Mayor James Seeley asked if staff could investigate making considerations for after-hours or 24-hour bylaw enforcement, specifically citing ongoing issues with fill operations outside of regular enforcement hours.

According to Seeley, hauling in “fill” or soil with different compositions without permits is referred to as an illegal fill operation.

“They wait until Saturday, and then 38,000 gravel trucks start rolling down and in, you know, and (if the bylaw officer is available), he attends that day but if not, it’s Monday,” said Seeley. “So there’s three days of potential illegal dumping that are already completed by the time we can react.”

Acting CAO and municipal clerk Courtenay Hoytfox said that with respect to the new site alteration bylaw, she expects there will be an increase in permit reviews as the town looks into the new fill and site alteration bylaw.

“To Mayor Seeley’s point, with a lot of our offenses occurring after hours or at the end of the work day, our bylaw officer’s responsibility is to respond,” said Hoytfox. “I think right now, we’ve been managing it but, it’s something that we need to continue to monitor.”

Hoytfox went on to say that sharing services with another municipality or contracting out for additional services is definitely something to assess in the 2024 budget, which Seeley supported.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from our current bylaw officer and his intent to respond it’s just so that, even if he’s on vacation, just to have a Plan B,” said Seeley.

Coun. John Sepulis and Seeley also directed staff to investigate the feasibility of having bylaw enforcement costs paid by the person causing the infraction.

“The goal is to not incur costs in the budget but at the end of the day I mean I’d be open to us incurring costs until we’re able to find a process…to ensure that there are consequences to illegal dumping,” said Seeely. “We can start at one spot and end at another as long as we do something.”

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com