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City Council shows support for by-law to regulate salvage yards

City of BrantfordCity Council shows support for by-law to regulate salvage yards

City of Brantford Council unanimously voted in favour of further regulating the salvage yard licensing requirements during their Committee of the Whole, Planning and Administration meeting on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

The new system is being modeled after Alberta and its Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act and would make Brantford the first Ontario city to have something similar.

The additions to the bylaw will prevent salvage yard dealers from accepting certain prohibited items, and will make it mandatory to issue traceable transactions (cheques and e-transfers) rather than cash.

“The type of metal that we’re seeking to restrict or prohibit is essentially scrap metal. It’s things like a manhole cover, bronze memorial markers, bronze markers on funeral tombstones, and it’s things like copper tubing that you’d find in air conditioners, it’s copper piping, and it’s copper wiring,” said Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford. “What this bylaw does is it restricts and prohibits the ability to deal on certain types of metal, and also eliminates the ability to do transactions with cash.”

Currently, salvage yards are required to collect a seller’s information from the identification provided, however there is no requirement to make sure the information isn’t false. The requirement of traceable transactions would ensure that sellers are producing proper identification.

In the report submitted by Michael Bradley, Commissioner for Community Development, he noted that the theft of copper and scrap metal, wiring, plumbing from homes and businesses, as well as HVAC units have been on the rise. A majority of the theft occurred at homes currently under renovation, new builds or vacant properties, and have even caused significant flooding damage to the locations.

Since 2019, there have been over 443 reports of copper and metal thefts within the city and in some cases have cost victims anywhere between $30,000 to $100,000 to repair.

The by-law was first brought to the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, and had an additional requirement where scrap dealers would have to report to police within 24-hours of being offered to buy prohibited items; However, the by-law was later deferred back to staff in order to make amendments that would be in line with the Alberta Court of Justice’s decision in R v. Khairullah, 2023 ABCJ 235.

On November 8, 2023, Justice Heather Lamoureaux, ruled Alberta’s Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act as unconstitutional after Amrullah Khairullah, a Calgary scrap dealer, was charged with 12 counts of failing to provide seller information within 24 hours of purchasing restricted metal in 2021.

Khairullah later challenged the act in court and Lamoureux said that the act intruded on federal authority of criminal law.  

The by-law has since been revised and the requirement to report prohibited items and those who sold them to the police within 24 hours, has been removed.

“We’ve now focused on what it is we’re really trying to deal with here, and that is to not assist the police investigating crime, but to suppress a crime that’s having an outsize impact on the health, safety and welfare of our residents,” said Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford.

He noted that when items are stolen from individuals and businesses, it can cause a dramatic impact in several situations.

‘If someone’s car is stolen it’s a great inconvenience to that person, but usually the impact on them is monetary because it’s the value of the vehicle, or if it’s insured, it’s their deductible. …If a manhole cover is gone, can you imagine the kind of havoc that can cause? The types of accidents and injuries that it could cause?” said Davis. “Think about the bronze Memorials, it could be a historical Memorial or it could more likely be some kind of bronze marker on a funeral marker; Just imagine how that can traumatize the surviving family members.”

Davis went on to talk about how stolen copper tubing and piping can cause damage that costs thousands of dollars in repair, while copper wiring being torn out of homes and construction projects can cause fires and endanger the safety of residents and businesses.

He said that the sale of these items often fuels much of the drug trade, and that the by-law will help suppress this in the long run.

Councillor Greg Martin also added that when thieves go after cabling, they will often mistake fiber cabling for the internet as copper, causing huge ramifications for those who work from home.

The vote to support the new by-law was carried unanimously and the final decision will come back to council at a later date.

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