Moncton — The Arsehole of the Maritimes, Moncton, N.B., is attempting to blame abandoned shopping carts for the unsightliness of the city. By drafting a bylaw against something that’s already illegal — stealing — they hope the store cart removal and subsequent abandonment will stop, and the city will miraculously look nice as a result.
“What happens is homeless people steal grocery carts to transport their belongings. They then leave the carts wherever they please,” said Nick Robichaud, general manager of legal and legislative services. “A bylaw to fine anyone stealing carts will encourage businesses to take better care of the carts. Probably. I mean, I can’t see any other effects it could have.”
Monctonians and those familiar with the city, though, know that the carts are the very least of the Hub City’s aesthetic concerns.
“Don’t they think it could be the litter everywhere that makes it look terrible? The decrepit storefronts? The run-down strip malls and strip clubs? The rows of grimly empty retail spaces broken up only by random Chinese food restaurants, laundromats and call centres? The Tim Hortons chili bowls blowing in the wind?” asked resident J.D. LeClair. “If a homeless person steals a shopping cart and abandons it, if anything the area will probably look better as a result. Those carts are at least kinda shiny, right?
“I’m not being funny, but Moncton makes Saint John look nice. Saint John. Let that sink in.”
Moncton has long struggled to find an appropriate response to their homelessness issue.
“So they tore down the tent cities last year because councillors actually thought that would be the determining factor in making Moncton pretty,” said Sarah Evans, who works in Moncton but lives in Riverview. “They installed these spikes and other harsh-looking deterrents in public areas to force homeless people not to sit down for too long — and, by the way, that just made the city look even worse. I don’t understand why they’re connecting homelessness with visual appeal at all…seems like a convenient scapegoat.
“Would it kill them to do some urban planning, and to address the root of the problem, which is that Moncton is ugly all on its own, with or without homeless people?”
One homeless man, Harry Corbett, stole a shopping cart recently, and used it to carry garbage he picked up around the most hideous parts of the city.
“I was trying to help…look at all this crap!” he exclaimed, gesturing at the cart full of gum wrappers, plastic cutlery, napkins, sanitary products, porno mags, old clothes and rags, cigarette butts, posters advertising metal bands’ upcoming shows, flat tires, rusty nails, hubcaps, beer cans, and more common Moncton detritus.
“The city should be paying me, not fining me. I’m doing their job for them.”
While doling out fines, the City intends to throw any abandoned carts they find into the Petitcodiac.
“Well, hey, it already looks like an actual river of shit,” commented Corbett with a shrug. “Maybe the carts and the shit-water will cancel each other out? That’ll make Moncton beautiful.”