Abandoned shopping carts have become a growing problem in Merritt for the past few years.

According to a City staff report, since September 2022, City staff have picked up a total of 204 shopping carts from different locations, such as parks, rivers, sidewalks and other public areas. 

The issue was one of the main discussions at the latest city council meeting on Oct. 24, where concerned local officials discussed possible solutions to address the ongoing problem.

At the latest council meeting, Coun. Wendy Charney voiced her concern on the high number of shopping carts spread around town. She questioned whether or not it would be possible to create a bylaw in order to start charging stores for a few services.

“Is there no way that we can say, okay, store A, we have picked up 10 of your carts, we are now going to charge you for pickup, storage, disposal and it goes into your taxes,” she said. 

Right after, Mayor Mike Goetz said that he has talked to a few businesses around town and said that “they are not listening.”

Cynthia White, City of Merritt’s chief administrative officer (CAO), said at the meeting that there have been discussions with some of the stores. 

“They are not open to investing in the system that stops the shopping cart at the end of their property,” she said. 

Adding to that, White reported in the meeting that the City’s bylaw officers spend approximately 30 per cent of their time annually dealing with shopping cart issues. 

“It’s a pretty significant amount of time and there has to be a way for us to mitigate that or cost recover on that,” White added. “There has to be a way to … deal with them just like we do with anybody else.”

During the discussion, Mayor Goetz added that it is not just the huge amount spent with the carts, it is also what is inside them sometimes.

“Sometimes it’s extremely dangerous stuff that’s in those carts and we have to hold on to all that for 30 days,” he said. “Now we end up with this rodeo of shopping carts and the stuff that’s in the shopping carts.”

The mayor added that nine out of 10 times, when the shopping cart is out in the open it’s because those who were using it don’t need it anymore. However, the City still has to hold on to the carts and the objects found in it for 30 days.

Mayor Goetz added at the end of the discussion that he is talking to both Cynthia White and Linda Brick, City of Merritt’s director of corporate services, for possible future solutions on this growing issue.