City of Nelson and residents grapple with bear proofing

Nelson has a bylaw requiring residents to store garbage in a wildlife resistant container — but no such containers are available

Nelson has a bylaw requiring residents to store garbage in a wildlife resistant container — but no such containers are available anywhere in town.

According to Bear Aware’s Joanne Siderius, the nearest place to buy a bear resistant garbage can is Canmore, Alberta. She was at a Nelson council meeting Monday asking the city to change that.

“Nelson could partner with the regional district to bulk order the bins and make them available to residents,” Siderius suggested.

If an individual resident wanted to buy a bear resistant garbage bin and have it shipped to Nelson, it would cost at least $300. But ordering 50 at a time brings the unit cost down to about $200.

Rosemont resident Tea Preville has been collecting orders from locals interested in going in on a bulk order. She’s been advertising the bins on Kijiji since last September, after she and several of her neighbours on Silver King Road received a warning ticket from a conservation officer. The ticket told them if they didn’t secure their garbage they could face a $500 fine under the BC Wildlife Act (not complying with the City of Nelson bylaw carries a fine up to $2,000). So far, she hasn’t had enough interest to place a bulk order — and she’s not exactly sure how she’s going to store and distribute all the bins when she finally finds enough buyers.

“I’d like to see the City take this over,” she said. “They have the space to store them and the money to pay for them upfront — it just makes more sense.”

But council had little interest in the project, suggesting alternative ways to keep bears from wondering into city limits.

“We could go to weekly garbage collection during the summer,” Councillor Bob Adams suggested, though his colleagues were quick to point out the added cost of doubling the pickup schedule.

Councillor Paula Kiss thought local students might be interested in holding “garbage drives” where they would pick up your garbage for the cost of a garbage tag.

“I think we can come up with a creative, community-based solution that doesn’t involve asking people to spend hundreds of dollars on bear bins,” Kiss said.

Mayor John Dooley suggested “harvesting” the bears. But Siderius noted that the bears hunters kill in the bush aren’t necessarily the same ones causing trouble in town.

Siderius told council the best way to stop bears from entering city limits is to remove the attractants. The bears aren’t going to return to the city if there isn’t a food source for them here.

Last year six bears were killed in Nelson and seven on the North Shore.

 

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