City likely to regulate the placement of donation bins throughout Cornwall

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Alyssa Blais, executive director of the Agape Centre.

CORNWALL, Ontario - A new Cornwall bylaw is just a few steps away from being created to regulate where so-called donation boxes are placed within the city.

Councillors received a report Monday night on a bylaw that spells out where to allow the boxes that charities often use to collect clothing and other articles for the less-fortunate.

They will make a decision in two weeks, which is expected to pass.

The fear is some non-profit groups will be put out of business by some for-profit groups that are flooding the market with bins in order to gather as much material as possible.

The city has developed a licensing system where charitable and non-charitable organizations are subject to registering their bins. Both profit and non-profit groups will have to identify and provide an inventory of all existing donation boxes (within municipal limits) to the City of Cornwall in order to create a database.

The city had the option of creating a system of self-regulation, where all donation boxes on private property not require the proponent to obtain written approval for such boxes. Such a scenario would have included the private property owner and the organization coming to an agreement on the placement of the donation bin.

The potential for a new bylaw has been applauded by Alyssa Blais, executive director of the Agape Centre in Cornwall - a soup kitchen and food bank that is fearing for the future should for-profit agencies begin collecting donations from local people.

"I really want them to pass the bylaw," she said. "They're really not helping not-for-profit charities."

The fear among some, suggested MacDonald at an earlier council meeting, is that many non-profit groups can be put out of businesses by for-profit agencies that have the resources to launch massive donation campaigns.

Blais said to this point the bottom line at the Agape Centre hasn't been damaged, but "definitely in the future" that could be an issue.

Local agencies which maintain donation boxes sells the donated items in local thrift stores - the profits from which are used to fund services for local people in need, including through the operation of social programs.

Organizations: Agape Centre

Geographic location: Cornwall, Ontario

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