Council passes temporary bylaw prohibiting garage and yard sales

(Gazette file photo)
SARAH WILLIAMS

STAFF WRITER

During the April 30th Special Council Meeting, council voted to enact a temporary bylaw that will prohibit garage and yard sales for the duration of the municipal State of Emergency, which ends July 31st.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, provincial health officials and the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) have warned that community spread of the virus can occur through social interaction and the contact of surfaces.

Municipal bylaw officers will enforce the measure, which is punishable by fines starting at $750 for failing to comply with the provincial orders for social distancing or being charged under the Provincial Offences Act for hosting a garage or yard sale.

Residents are advised that, instead of garage/yard sales, they may arrange contact-less pick-ups through online platforms such as Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace.

During the meeting, a report from the Development Services Department/The Clerk’s Office was brought before council outlining the pros and cons of enacting such a bylaw.

To answer any questions that should arise, Chief Building Official Andy Harrison was on hand. Harrison also co-authored the report brought before council.

One issue that Councillor Janice Maynard brought up was the possible misinterpretation of what constitutes a garage/yard sale.

Typically, we think of a garage sale as tables set out and people at them, but the definition is less clear. It doesn’t really specify whether an item being sold in your front yard is considered a yard sale,” said Maynard

Maynard also stated she believes staff should craft a bylaw that requires that people register when they’re having a yard (or garage) sale, which would allow the municipality to proactively monitor those events.

Councillor Phil Prinzen also questioned the definition of garage/yard sales, but ultimately stated he couldn’t support any such bylaw.

I have an issue with this one. It feels like we’re babysitting. If people are worried about getting COVID-19, they’re probably not going to go to a yard sale or have a yard sale,” explained Prinzen. “I understand the logic and the philosophy behind the report and the try but, if I was worried about COVID-19, I’m not going to have a garage or yard sale. And, I’m not going to one. The question I have is more, the people who put stuff out for free, is that now a yard sale? There’s all kinds of people who do that here. It’s too iffy for me, so I won’t support this one.”

Harrison responded to both councillors concerns by stating that random items placed in people’s yards would not be considered a yard sale per say.

We would not deal with somebody putting an item out on their front yard as a yard sale. The intent is more for the homeowner that is putting out tables with multiple items and having people come there for a day or weekend,” he said. “Just to put a snow blower at the end of the driver, for example, wouldn’t constitute a yard sale by our interpretation.”

Councillor Ernie Margetson supported the new bylaw, stating he felt it fell in line with the present State of Emergency.

I think, based on our previous discussion about visitors and businesses, this is appropriate within the terms of the present State of Emergency,” he said. “Once we get to the ‘new normal’ I don’t want to have people register (for garage/yard sales). I don’t want more bureaucracy involved with those.”

The bylaw was passed 12-1.

Municipal by-law officers will enforce the measure. Infraction of the new temporary by-law is punishable by fines starting at $750 for failing to comply with the provincial orders for social distancing or being charged under the Provincial Offences Act for hosting a garage or yard sale.

If you believe an individual or business is violating this by-law, call 613.476.2148 extension 1023 or email: info@pecounty.on.ca