Curbside giveaway part of expanded Coquitlam garage sale

Coquitlam is considering expanding its city-wide garage sale program to include a curbside giveaway, giving residents more opportunity to reduce, reuse and recycle gently used household items.

The city holds a sale every spring that has grown to include more than 200 participating households since its inception in 2006. Because of this success, staff are proposing expanding the event from one day to two and adding a second sale in the fall.

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This would encourage “residents to use this opportunity to both sell and give away unused items,” said a recent report to council. “This could be further enhanced by encouraging residents to incorporate clearly marked ‘free’ items, along with the items they wish to sell.”

Coquitlam is not the only city that holds a curbside giveaway.

Vaughan, Ont. has had a similar program since 2017 and its representatives told Coquitlam planing staff the experience has not led to problems with unsightly premises or illegal dumping. Saskatoon will hold a curbside giveaway this fall while Winnipeg has had one since 2009.

Not everyone at the council table was convinced free items will find new homes.

Coun. Bonita Zarrillo said she worries the initiative would lead to “curbside dumping,” noting the city already has issues with items being left on streets and boulevards. “I am heartbroken to think how… many discarded items will be out on the street that will become the problem of the taxpayer if we expand this to a curbside giveaway,” she said, later adding: “This is an illegal dumping nightmare.”

Mayor Richard Stewart disagreed with her assessment, noting that giving residents more opportunity to get rid of unwanted items would reduce illegal dumping. He said things like furniture and mattresses are usually left on the street overnight, likely because “people don’t know how to get rid of it.”

In the end, council voted to endorse the proposal, with only Zarrillo opposed (Coun. Chris Wilson was absent).

According to the report to council, the current city-wide garage sale costs approximately $2,500 in staff time and advertising, an amount that would likely increase to $6,000 if the program is expanded.

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