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Curbside audits land community excellence award for Coquitlam

Since 2017, the city's program has led to an almost perfect compliance rate in reducing unnatural food sources for local wildlife.
Coquitlam trash
Coquitlam has won an award from the Union of BC Municipalities for its curbside collection audit program that resulted in a 99 per cent compliance rate among residents.

A program to ensure Coquitlam homeowners are following the rules of curbside garbage collection has recorded a 99.4 per cent compliance rate over the last five years.

The city's audit was a means to educate residents on the importance of reducing exposure of unnatural food sources to bears and other wildlife, which, in turn, would lead to fewer conflicts. 

Coquitlam was recognized for its efforts on solid waste bylaws in the form of a community excellence award, which was presented this week at the 2022 Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Whistler.

In a news release, the city explained the honour was in the service delivery category, which recognizes proactive programs that demonstrate benefit to the community, and use performance measures and standards to ensure sustainable service delivery.

"From 2017 to 2021, the City conducted annual curbside audits each spring to encourage residents to abide by cart set out times required through the City’s Solid Waste Management Bylaw," added Coquitlam environment manager Caresse Selk.

"Additionally, the City established morning and evening collection zones in 2018 to further limit the time solid waste was at the curb — and accessible to wildlife."

Selk said Coquitlam is the only Metro Vancouver municipality — and one of 10 in the province — that has achieved Bear Smart status resulting largely from the sold waste compliance and management system.

"By implementing the audit system, collection-zone amendments, and through the creation of planning documents, such as the Environmental Sustainability Plan, the City has minimized human–wildlife conflict and is able to identify neighbourhoods that require further education and outreach."

In 2021, Coquitlam issued 105 tickets to local property owners that left food scraps out for wildlife worth up to $500 each.

The number is a 44 per cent decrease from 2020, and 77 per cent from five years ago — 450 in 2017.

There were also 923 warnings given to local homeowners in 2021 for improperly securing garbage carts and/or loose unnatural attractants.

As of Sept. 15, WildSafeBC's Wildlife Alert Reporting Program says Coquitlam has recorded 46 known wildlife encounters involving garbage and unnatural food attractants since the start of 2022.

The City of Coquitlam also lists the following measures to reduce wildlife encounters:

  • Put food scraps in green carts
  • Store garbage carts, green carts and recycling in an area inaccessible to wildlife
    • If not possible, a wildlife-resistant enclosure can be used to secure solid waste and prevent wildlife from accessing
    • Enclosures are strong enough to fend off the strength of an animal weighing 600 pounds
  • Place carts and recycling at the curb after 5:30 a.m. on collection day
  • Store freezers and refrigerators inside
  • Keep pet food inside
  • Pick ripe and fallen fruit
  • Suspend bird feeders and clean up fallen seed
  • Limit outdoor composting to yard waste and plant trimmings
  • Freeze smelly waste until collection day
  • Keep all collection carts clean
  • Keep barbecues clean
  • Keep vehicles free of food, with windows closed and doors locked


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