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Port Moody residents better lock up their garbage carts — or the city could force you to

Bylaw officers will be given the authority to require residents and homeowners store their garbage carts in a secure area like a garage if they repeatedly attract bears.
Once bears find an easy source for food, they'll keep returning, says Port Moody councillor Hunter Madsen.

Port Moody is going to get tougher with residents who make it easy for bears to access their garbage.

But at least one councillor worries the measures might not have enough teeth.

On Tuesday (Feb. 8), council approved escalating fines for homeowners or residents who don’t manage their waste containers properly by leaving them unsecured to tempt hungry bears.

Bylaw enforcement officers will be given the ability to require carts be stored in a secure enclosure

  • if a homeowner’s cart has been damaged more than three times in a calendar year
  • if the homeowner has been issued more than two tickets in a year for not managing their carts correctly
  • if a conservation officer has notified the city of a recurrent problem at an address or area

Failure to comply could result in a fine of $500 for the first offence, $750 for the second and $1,000 after that.

Port Moody’s general manager of engineering and operations, Jeff Moi, told council while some fines have been issued in the past, the city would prefer to work with homeowners to get them to understand the importance of keeping their waste containers secure from prowling bears.

“Our hope is we can use this as a tool to get better compliance,” he said. “Hopefully having that looming threat will get more people to keep their carts in their garage or locked up.”

Currently, carts must remain stored and locked until 5:30 a.m. on waste collection days and they must be removed from the street and relocked by 8 p.m. that night.

But Coun. Diana Dilworth said she’s “stunned” by the number of bins she sees left outside of homes with garages or storage sheds.

Coun. Hunter Madsen suggested the city’s tolerance for garbage cart scofflaws before it starts writing tickets might be too high. He said once bears find an easy meal, they’ll keep going back.

“There’s not much point in putting this into play if we set the bar so high,” Madsen said. “People who are resistant, you want to give them something that does have teeth.”

Before Tuesday’s meeting, Carla Parr-Pearson of Tri-Cities Bear Aware praised Port Moody’s efforts to reduce bear conflicts.

But, she added, poorly managed garbage carts have been an ongoing problem, especially at homes that are being used for short-term rentals like Airbnb.

Coun. Zoe Royer said some elderly residents might also have challenges schlepping their carts up and down their driveways and securing them properly according to the city’s regulations, especially if they live in an area that’s sloped.

She said, in that case, it’s better if the community can pitch in to support them rather than be punitive.

“We need a unified approach to bear protection.”