Port Coquitlam Increases Bear Safety Measures

PORT COQUITLAM, BC – Mar. 4, 2020…Cart locks in more sizes and increased fines are among the new measures in Port Coquitlam to keep neighbourhoods and bears safe.

Tuesday night, City Council gave approval to the City’s efforts to further manage wildlife that will make free locks for all three sizes of carts available to residents who have not yet received them, undertake a bear hazard assessment, and increase fines for not securing waste properly.

“We knew we needed to do more to deal with increased bear activity so we looked at what other B.C. communities have had success with,” Mayor Brad West said. “If we do nothing, bear conflicts will continue to increase, putting our residents and wildlife at risk. This proactive approach will have the city working hand-in-hand with the community to keep our neighbourhoods safe.”

The adjustments to the city’s approach comes on the heels of a year of escalated bear activity on both north and south sides of Port Coquitlam.

Funded through reserve and surplus accounts, the city will:

  • Introduce new locks for 120-litre waste carts and make locks available for 240-litre and 360-litre carts to all remaining residents (first lock is free, replacements are $45);
  • Send a targeted mailout to all properties receiving city waste services that have not yet received locks to advise them of the bylaw requirements and that they can request a free cart lock;
  • Conduct a bear hazard assessment, one of the criteria for Bear Smart certification;
  • Raise fines from $150 to $500 for those who don’t secure their garbage and green waste properly. Bylaw amendments will be brought forward to the March 10 Council meeting, and;
  • Begin year-round weekly organics pickup in the fall to reduce odours that can attract bears, instead of the previous biweekly collection from late fall to early spring.

The success of the strategy will continue to rely heavily on residents and businesses following the bear regulations that have been in place since 2009:

  • LOCK IT UP – secure garbage and food scraps in either a wildlife-resistant enclosure (e.g. garage or shed) or by using the city’s wildlife-resistant cart lock or a lock certified by the BC Conservation Foundation.
  • SET IT OUT – only set out unlocked carts between 5:30-7:30 a.m. on collection day and re-secure them by 7 p.m.

“This won’t work without the cooperation of each and every household and business,” said Cllr. Steve Darling, Council’s designate on community safety matters. “The regulations have been in effect for more than a decade and we’re making it easier than ever to follow them. For the safety of everyone in our community, it’s time to get serious.”

The new measures will ensure any home receiving the city’s waste collection services that doesn’t have a garage or other wildlife-proof shelter for its waste carts can get a lock from the city for free.

The city has been providing free locks and a new third arm for added security to homes with 240-litre and 360-litre carts, and is now providing a lock suitable for the 120-litre carts, which are not rigid enough for the city’s locks.

About 24,700 waste carts are in use in Port Coquitlam, including 7,535 240-litre, 1,823 120-litre and 1,470 360-litre. The 120-litre carts are growing in popularity for space and waste conservation reasons. In total, 10,828 carts in Port Coquitlam do not have city locks.

The planned bear hazard assessment will also assess the root causes of human/bear conflicts to reduce risks to safety and property and reduce bear destruction.

Along with the new measures, Port Coquitlam will continue its ongoing efforts that include its ongoing bear education campaign and work with the provincial Conservation Office to track bear activity and conduct proactive joint enforcement.

Increased staff time for enforcement is also expected as part of the city’s review of bylaw services this year. The city’s approach to enforcement to date has included education, warnings and penalties when necessary for repeat offences. The planned new fines are closer to those being issued in Coquitlam and Port Moody.

The best protection against bears is to physically keep waste and other attractants out of reach:

  • Keep carts in the garage if possible.
  • Freeze meat and strong-smelling food scraps, and wait until collection day to put them into the green cart.
  • Feed pets indoors, clean barbecues after use and keep freezers indoors or locked up.
  • Don’t store strong-smelling garbage (diapers, grease barrels) or scented products (pop cans, toothpaste tubes, hairspray, mouthwash, etc.) outside.
  • Harvest fruit, berries and vegetables before or as they ripen, and clean up fallen fruit.
  • Remove bird feeders from April to November, or suspend them higher than 3.3 metres.
  • Block access to small animals (chickens, rabbits) and berry bushes.

For more information about being bear aware, the City’s garbage regulations, visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/bears. To request a cart lock, call 604.927.5496 or email publicworks@portcoquitlam.ca

Educational presentations from the city’s Ambassadors can and how to use the locks can also be requested at www.portcoquitlam.ca/ambassadors.

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Pardeep Purewal
Manager of Communications & Admin Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5335 Cel 604.218.0533
Email purewalp@portcoquitlam.ca