The town of Rothesay is considering its options to control flyer distribution in the town, mulling an opt-out program similar to proposed bylaw in neighbouring Saint John.

Town mayor Nancy Grant says it’s something Rothesay’s climate change adaptation committee has been considering for months.

The draft bylaw is along the same lines as Saint John’s proposed flyer regulation bylaw, which passed first and second reading in April and will go for third reading and enactment at a future council meeting.

Saint John city staff developed the bylaw “to address some of the nuisances arising from flyer distribution that has been brought to the city’s attention over the years,” said Michael Hugenholtz, the city’s commissioner of public works and transportation, at an April meeting.

The draft flyer distribution bylaw for Rothesay forbids flyer distribution to residential properties if a sign or notice is posted on a window or mailbox that says “no flyers.”

The draft bylaw also says distributors should only place the flyers in a mailbox, mail slot, other similar receptacle of on a doorstep, and also prohibits flyers being delivered to a home where flyers haven’t been retrieved for two consecutive weeks.

Some councillors questioned why the town was proposing an opt-out model.

“I’d hope, in this day and age, with trying to conserve paper, you’d hope you could opt in, instead of opt out,” Coun. Tiffany Mackay French said. 

But Saint John city staff determined municipalities aren’t able to enforce an opt-in model, town manager John Jarvie said.

Brunswick News, which publishes the Telegraph-Journal, prints and delivers flyers on behalf of retailers.

The draft bylaw says violating the bylaw would come with a minimum penalty of $140 and a maximum penalty of $2,100, though Jarvie says there could be enforcement issues, as the town doesn’t have the capacity to “wander around” and see if flyers have been delivered to homes which have opted out.

“It will have to be complaint driven,” he said, “it’s the only practical way.”

Jarvie said the town only received one recent complaint of flyer deliveries, but had received many over the years.

He added residents with doorbell cameras would be in a better position to prove their case that a flyer had been delivered after they opted out.

Deputy mayor Matt Alexander, also chair of the town’s climate change adaptation committee, said committee members successfully called the distributor and asked them to stop being delivered.

“That’s always an option,” he said, “they will stop.”

He noted the draft bylaw’s current provision to have a “no flyers” sign on a mailbox or in a window, and raised concerns of the potential for “unsightly” signs.

The draft bylaw dictates the signs should consist of black font on a white background, with “no flyers” in a font size of at least 38 points, in a plain font type. The sign must be “reasonably visible to a distributor,” too.

Town council directed staff to complete a report on the issue, and to present it to council at their meeting in June, where the draft bylaw will be up for its first reading.

With files from Emma McPhee

By Marlo Glass, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 16, 2023 at 05:51

This item reprinted with permission from   Telegraph-Journal   Saint John, New Brunswick
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