The system of putting out household waste in Maple Ridge is attracting bears, and conservation officers are looking for solutions.
Sgt. Todd Hunter of the Conservation Officer Service was closely watching the referendum on city-run garbage collection, which was defeated by residents in October 2018.
He would have preferred a single, city-wide system, to one where bears have a virtual smorgasbord of attractants laid out on residential streets.
“One block might have five different service providers for pickup, so garbage can sit out all day long,” said Hunter.
He said the conservation service wants to change that.
“That’s one of the things holding Maple Ridge back from becoming a bear-smart community.”
City bylaws say household waste can go out to the curb no earlier than 5 a.m., and receptacles must be brought back in no later than 7 p.m.
Hunter would like to see residents get together, and agree to have every household on a given street or even neighbourhood choose the same collection company. That would mean all garbage would be collected in one swoop, and traffic would be held up by only one truck.
A bear smart committee for the northeast sector will be looking for solutions, and will be working with the city, he said.
He noted there is a Silver Valley residents group promoting better bear aware practices, and the public interest in keeping bears from being shot is a positive.
“We want to keep that pace up – that’s exactly what we need.”
Hunter said there are obvious problems.
He has issued dangerous wildlife protection orders to residents found to be storing garbage outdoors on their property before taking it to the waste transfer station themselves.
“There was heaps of food waste being stored outside,” he said.
He doubts it is an isolated problem.
“How many other people are doing that?”
He said Maple Ridge has good bylaws.
The Wildlife and Vector Control Bylaw passed in 2018, , prevents wildlife attractants and is designed to control the spread of disease. In broad terms, it prohibits property owners from allowing their property to provide food, shelter or breeding conditions for wildlife, including mice, rats and even bugs. It is a good tool for enforcement, he said.
Coun. Gordy Robson, who opposed city-run waste collection, said the municipality is doing what it can. He said the city has a Bear Aware Program and coordinator, and it responds to problems by first educating the public, and then ticketing those who put out their garbage early, or commit other offences.
He said the public showed in the referendum that it is not interested in a city-run garbage collection system.