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PoCo looks to increase fines as city tries to become more bear aware

Last Updated Mar 5, 2020 at 9:14 am PDT

FILE: A black bear looks up from rifling through the garbage in the front yard of a home on July 6, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo, Becky Bohrer)

Port Coquitlam is hoping to receive its Bear Smart Certification to help avoid wildlife conflict

City council is moving forward with an updated approach after a year of increased wildlife activity

PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – Port Coquitlam is stepping up its safety measures to deal with bears. City council is moving forward with an updated approach after a year of increased wildlife activity.

The city is hoping to receive “Bear Smart Certification,” which means it will conduct a bear hazard assessment, develop and maintain a bear-proof waste management system, and implement new bylaws.

“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.”

Late last year, officers killed six bears in one day at a park near Westwood Street. A number of other bruins were also destroyed throughout the year.

Mailouts will be sent to all homeowners to remind them of bylaw requirements, and will also remind people to pick up new locks for their garbage carts to keep bears out. The city estimates more than 10,800 waste carts across Port Coquitlam don’t have city locks on them.

The city will also be changing its organics pickup to weekly.

Those who don’t follow the new and enhanced rules could face even bigger consequences.

As part of changes, city council is looking at increasing fines from $150 to $500 for anyone not securing their garbage or green waste bins properly.

Doing your part

“This won’t work without the cooperation of each and every household and business,” said Councillor Steve Darling. “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 bylaw amendments will be brought forward at next week’s council meeting.

Changes will be funded through reserve and surplus accounts, the city added, however, it’s not clear how much the overall push will cost.

In addition to the proposed changes, the city said it also plans to look at the root cause of human-bear conflicts, in an effort to increase safety and reduce property and bear destruction.

If your home has a garbage bin, you’re reminded to keep it in the garage if possible and to not put your carts out until collection day. You’re also asked to freeze meat as well as strong-smelling food scraps, feed your pets indoors, clear barbecues after you use them, and to lock any freezers that aren’t inside.