Moncton and Riverview want the provincial government to strengthen rules for scrap yards following thefts of copper, catalytic converters and other precious metals.
Riverview Mayor Andrew LeBlanc voiced support for stricter measures this week after council voted to spend more than $58,000 to replace almost four kilometres of underground copper wire stolen in June.
“We really want to advocate that there are tighter regulations around that entire process,” LeBlanc said Tuesday about selling material to scrap yards, saying it’s a widespread issue in the province that needs to be addressed.
“Greater accountability” for scrap yards was among 22 recommendations of a report issued after a series of public meetings about crime, drug use and homelessness in Moncton.
Moncton staff have gone as far as drawing up proposed changes to provincial regulations and legislation, handing the document over to Public Safety Minister Bill Hogan in a meeting this summer.
The minister’s department is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Salvage Dealers Licensing Act, a law regulating sale and purchase of salvage material.
The proposal was given to Hogan following thefts of copper from light poles at public ball parks, street lights along the Gunningsville Bridge, from construction sites and houses, and thefts of catalytic converters from school district vehicles.
“We’ve tried to be proactive, not just say ‘that’s your problem,'” Marc Landry, Moncton’s city manager, said last month about its proposal. “We’ve actually tried to provide tangible solutions as well.”
The city hasn’t released the specifics of its requested changes. City spokesperson Mélanie Cécyre said they would add “additional accountability and reporting requirements” to the law.
It’s unclear if the proposed changes will be implemented. Hogan wouldn’t provide an interview.
Deputy Mayor Bryan Butler attended the June 14 meeting with the minister. He said Hogan indicated he would take the city’s request back to his department to consider.
“We didn’t expect an answer that day when we spoke to him,” Butler said in an interview Wednesday. “He was willing to listen, and I liked that about it. He was concerned.”
Butler said keeping more detailed records could help investigations of thefts.
“That way if there’s 25 catalytic converters taken off of buses and we find a guy that takes 25 catalytic converters into a scrap yard to sell, it wouldn’t necessarily say it’s him or her that did it, but it would give the police in that jurisdiction a place to start,” Butler said.
The law already requires licensed scrap dealers keep records that include:
- the date of purchase or receipt of an item,
- description of the item, price paid,
- name and address of the person who sold the item,
- registration number and description of a vehicle to deliver the item,
- any other requirements set to in regulations.
A document from Moncton with updates on the 22 public safety recommendations says recent checks of compliance show good overall results, but one greater Moncton scrap dealer had violations.
The document says “prosecution pending,” without elaborating.
CBC News requested an interview with Hogan on July 26 about the city’s proposal as well as other parts of the 22 recommendations that fall under provincial jurisdiction.
Judy Désalliers, a spokesperson for Public Safety, instead issued a written statement that said licensed scrap yards will be inspected this summer and that the department is “assessing” the city’s suggested amendments.
Désalliers said the minister was unavailable for an interview. Despite being offered a variety of possible times for an interview, the minister didn’t provide one.
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