BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – Is the “bear aware” message getting through? Eight days after a little girl was mauled in Port Coquitlam, photos of a couple apparently dumping garbage in a popular park in neighbouring Coquitlam have been posted online.
“It’s unfortunate we do see instances of people dumping garbage in our parks. We don’t know what motivates people, but they certainly do it,” says Steffanie Warriner, Coquitlam’s manager of environmental services.
Coquitlam has spent a decade educating and informing people, enforcing strict bylaws and bear-proofing public spaces — the city is, in fact, seeking official Bear Smart Community certification through the Ministry of Environment.
But photos posted Monday on Reddit seem to show a couple taking black bags of garbage into Coquitlam’s Mundy Park and dumping them by overflowing garbage receptacles.
“We patrol our parks on a very regular basis and we do clean up any litter as soon as it comes to our attention,” Warriner tells NEWS 1130.
“All of our city parks are equipped with wildlife-resistant garbage receptacles and we make sure that any time there is a littering issue that it’s dealt with right away.”
Warriner says that while there are people who need a reminder of the city’s Bear Smart messaging, she feels the majority of the population is on board with their initiatives.
“We are starting to see improvements on our regular community patrols, we are seeing fewer issues with littering and dumping and we are seeing quite a number of people coming forward when they have concerns. We are definitely seeing a shift in a positive direction.”
When the city does come across someone not paying attention to Bear Smart bylaws, it can issue fines up to $500.
“Our preference as a city is to continue educating and providing outreach, but when that’s not working we, unfortunately, have to move towards enforcement and penalties,” Warriner says.
“This is everyone’s responsibility. We take the Bear Smart approach very seriously. It’s a public safety issue as well as an animal welfare issue and it really is something that requires cooperation and participation. The City of Coquitlam is dedicated to ensuring residents can live safely and comfortably in our community while sharing it in a manner that’s respectful of wildlife as well.”