Kingston council to consider regulations for salvage yards

Kingston City Hall frames the supermoon in 2016. Photo by Yang Yu.

Mayor Bryan Paterson will table a new motion at the next meeting of Kingston City Council that could see the City move to regulate salvage yards in an effort to combat metal thefts locally.

At the coming meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, Paterson’s new motion, which is seconded by King’s Town District Councillor Gregory Ridge, will ask that Council direct City staff to “provide a system of licences with respect to salvage yard businesses,” among other things. The motion specifically mentions that “instances of reported thefts of copper wire, including telecommunication wires, has (sic) increased dramatically over the last nine months resulting in over 60 reported thefts.” It also notes that “these thefts are perpetrated for the high sale value of copper in salvage yards for cash,” and “the rate of recidivism is high given that offenders are not often incarcerated for these crimes.”

The motion seemingly stems from the discussion at the September 5, 2023, meeting of Council – where the approval of a capital budget amendment to cover unscheduled repairs due to vandalism at Belle Park was on the agenda – about how best to address the ongoing issue of the theft of cable, equipment, etc. specifically for the valuable copper or other metallic elements within them. Mayor Paterson indicated that the issue – and possible regulations of it – might best be addressed at the upcoming Kingston Police Services Board meeting. Paterson and Trillium District Councillor Jimmy Hassan sit on the Police Services Board as representatives of Council.

Precisely that happened at the Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, meeting of the Police Services Board, where a bylaw to regulate the purchasing and sales of scrap metal was suggested. That meeting also saw discussion about systemic issues when it comes to serial thefts of metal, with Acting Police Chief Scott Fraser noting that many offenders caught stealing metals in this manner are “repeat customers.”

Paterson’s new motion also seeks to address the aforementioned systemic issues by communicating with other levels of government, as well as to see the Mayor attempt to create a regional action plan on the matter with the Regional Mayors Council. But tackling the issue here in Kingston is the main objective of the motion, which speaks directly to situations like that which occurred with the vandalism and theft at the Belle Park landfill site.

“The loss of services when offenders cut and remove wires creates a safety concern for residents who cannot contact emergency services or safeguard their properties with active alarm systems,” the new motion reads.

“There is a significant cost to the municipality, property owners and business owners to replace wire and repair damaged poles as well as a burden on police resources taking officers away from focusing on other investigations.”

The full wording of the new motion is available in the agenda for the Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, meeting of Council, which takes place in the Council Chambers of Kingston City Hall beginning at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. Alternatively, the meeting can be streamed live (or viewed afterward) on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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