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City of Brantford looking to crack down on copper and metal theft

City of BrantfordCity of Brantford looking to crack down on copper and metal theft

City of Brantford council unanimously voted in favour of further regulating the salvage yard licensing requirements during the Committee of the Whole, Planning and Administration meeting on Tuesday, November 15, 2023.

The additions to the bylaw will prevent salvage yard dealers from accepting certain items and will have them reporting to police within 24-hours of being offered to buy items that are frequently stolen like copper or metal.

While residents already have to provide salvage yards with their identification, and yards are required to record that information, the changes would make it mandatory to issue traceable transactions (cheques and e-transfers) rather than cash.

The new system has been modeled after Alberta and its Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act, making Brantford the first Ontario city to have something similar.

In the report submitted by Dave Wiedrick, Director of Bylaw and Security, 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.

Councillor Linda Hunt said that on June 19, 2023, herself and Councillor Richard Carpenter met with Brantford Police Services and Wiedrick to discuss concerns from business owners in Ward four.

“At that point, the meeting was a direct result of the concern of a lot of the business owners that are in the industrial area in Ward four,” said Hunt. “We were able to get some actual statistics from January 1 to May 31, 2023 and there were 22 break and enters in Ward four that were clustered in and around two very distinctive areas. The number one thing being taken was metal.”

Kevin Davis, Mayor of the City of Brantford, said that there will be an immediate benefit with these new changes.

“We can see that there will be an immediate benefit to many businesses and homeowners who’ve had things like air conditioners or stolen copper pipe leading to the air conditioners stolen,” he said. “Also, I think it will be helpful in respect to addressing the opioid issue because the revenue that some derive from stealing items and going to scrap dealers, is part of the financing of the local drug trade. It’s all about money, and some of that money does finance the drug trade. To some degree it will put a restriction on that flow of funds.”

Councillor Brian Van Tilborg asked Wiedrick if there will be any implications of salvage yards if they do enforce these changes.

Wiedrick confirmed that “Bylaw Licensing and Police will be working together to go after those scrap dealers not following the rules.”

Along with the report, members of council also received input from three of the six salvage dealers contacted, outlining their concerns.

Brant Scrap Metal noted in their letter that these changes will not stop material thefts, and that it was unfair to put these requirements on the salvage yards as there will be additional administrative and financial burdens which could drive some smaller dealers out of business.

 It also noted that the market of stolen material is driven by unlicensed mobile dealers and online marketplace sellers, not licensed dealers.

The company said they are already actively working to fight metal theft including the use of video cameras, seller accounts, and notifying supervisors if suspicious looking material is brought in.

Looking to the future, the City is also planning to send the report to Will Bouma, MPP of Brantford-Brant and the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, with a request to regulate Salvage Yards throughout the Province of Ontario similar to the Province of Alberta’s Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act.

The vote was carried 10-0, noting that Councillor Mandy Samwell was not present. The item will come back to council at a later date for final approval.

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