A row of five donation bins occupy a corner of the Langley Mall parking lot, across from Langley City Hall.

City looks to get a handle on thrift stores

Donation drop-offs creating ‘trail of mess’ through the downtown,says mayor

Langley City is hoping to curb the proliferation of thrift stores in the community’s downtown with proposed bylaws and regulations that will attempt to clean up the mess donated items can leave behind.

The Downtown Langley BIA sent a letter to council last month,  stating that 16 thrift stores in downtown Langley is too many and their presence is hurting the look of the shopping core.

Mayor Ted Schaffer said the proposed regulations, which are scheduled to come to council on July 25, attempt to address those concerns.

“What’s happening at the thrift stores and donation bins is people are dropping off goods and bags of clothing at night when the stores are closed. Then people go through the donations, leaving a trail of mess around town,” said Schaffer.

“The same happens at the donation bins. Those are absent of any owners and we end up cleaning up the mess. I’m looking at five of those bins just outside City Hall.”

At the Monday, July 25 Langley City council meeting, members of the public are invited to have their say on several new regulations and bylaws that will directly affect thrift stores and donation bins.

Similar to regulations that were passed to limit the number of pharmacies in the area, the issue will be taken to a vote, to determine whether the rules will also apply to thrift stores.

If it is passed, no new thrift shop will be permitted to open within 400 metres of an existing one.

Another bylaw is being proposed that will require a staff member to be present any time a thrift store receives donations, that thrift stores post signage indicating the hours that donations are accepted and that they are required to keep donation and garbage bins clear and tidy.

The City is also looking to regulate the free-standing donation bins. If approved, the owners of those bins will be required to get a licence and pay an administration fee.

Schaffer said he hasn’t heard anything from the operators of thrift stores but suspects not everyone will agree with the new regulations.

“I expect some will disagree, but as a council we are trying to look at the betterment of the community. We are trying really hard,” said Schaffer.

The donation mess is an expensive one for the City, he said.

“What we see is people dump furniture and then those people who are homeless haul that furniture to the camps, like the one in Nicomekl floodplain.

“We end up having to go in and haul truckloads of junk away.”