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Port Moody considers toughening garbage rules to discourage bear encounters

Port Moody will look at the implications of tougher measures to ensure bears can't access waste bins.
bear in Port Moody
Port Moody is going to look at the implications of tougher measure to ensure bears can't access waste carts.

Port Moody residents who don’t take enough care to keep their solid waste containers secure from bears could soon be required to lock them away in a garage or other secure enclosure.

At its meeting July 13, council tasked staff to report back on the implications of amending the city’s solid waste bylaw to require an extra layer of security for garbage and green waste carts at homes identified as repeat allures to bears seeking an easy snack.

Carla Parr-Pearson of Tri-Cities Bear Aware told council while enhanced bylaws and increased compliance to the rules about managing solid waste has led to a decrease in bear incidents involving carts put out before 5:30 a.m. on waste collection days, it’s important for residents to recognize even empty carts can attract the bruins and create a problem.

“Education isn’t always enough to motivate residents to store carts in ways that are inaccessible to wildlife,” she said. “Tools are needed to motivate people to better store their carts.”

Parr-Pearson suggested a requirement for residents whose homes are repeatedly targeted by bears to keep their solid waste carts in a locked garage, detached accessory building or even just chained tightly to a post or wall so bears can’t knock them over, could be just such a tool.

Currently, solid waste containers can be stored outside, at the back of properties. Although, as Coun. Steve Miliani noted, they should also always be locked, even when empty.

“One of the major reasons I’ve seen is people’s inability to keep their cans latched,” he said of persistent bear intrusions into waste carts.

Coun. Hunter Madsen said, from his own experience, having a secure location to store the carts — away from the noses of hungry bears — can minimize the hassle of always unlocking and locking the lids when throwing out trash or green waste.

But, he added, not everyone has access to a garage, or the space and money to build a secure enclosure.

“It’s hard to know what more we can do to push people to add the expense of creating a bear-proof enclosure if they cannot or will not put their containers in their garage.”

Parr-Pearson said her group is working on possible incentives like a rebate program that could reduce the expense of creating a secure enclosure.

“We will make it work,” she said. “We need to intervene before a bear finds a food source.”