Joanne Siderius is looking forward to having more firepower.
The local Bear Aware coordinator says a new wildlife and waste management bylaw is a “head’s up” for residents who are sloppy with their garbage and attract bruins to the city.
“It’s like, okay, the city’s serious about this,” a jubilant Siderius told local media after council gave the bylaw its first three readings Monday.
“The message is the same: manage attractants. But now there is a tool… now the city and its enforcement agencies have a means of dealing with people.”
Under the new bylaw, garbage can only be placed at the curb between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. on the day of collection. If it’s stored outside in the interim, it has to be in a bear resistant container or secure building.
The bylaw also prohibits feeding wildlife or feeding “other animals in a manner that is likely to attract wildlife,” restricts bird feeder use during bear season, requires fruit tree owners to pick up and dispose of fallen produce and barbeque users to keep their equipment clean and free of residual food.
“Now if someone is causing a problem in their neighbourhood, leaving garbage in a place where bears can get it, there is a way to deal with people,” said Siderius. But councillor Bob Adams and mayor John Dooley both expressed doubts about the new restrictions.
“Does this mean every person in Fairview – because they all have garbage cans in the back lanes – can only leave their garbage out on collection days?” Adams asked. “I think it’s going to be impossible to enforce.”
“It’s pretty broad in scope,” added Dooley. “It’ll be interesting to see what the enforcement piece is like.”
But other councillors suggested enforcement isn’t what’s needed as the bylaw is rolled out. Kim Charlesworth said this year the city should focus on educating the public about the new requirements, with penalties handed out more freely later on.
“I think it would be unfair to citizens to all of a sudden say everybody has to have a bear proof container,” she added. “It’s going to take some time for people to wrap their heads around that and figure out how to start storing their garbage.”
Siderius will likely be at the forefront of the education campaign.
“We’re going to be mentioning there is now a bylaw and helping people understand what that bylaw means,” she said, adding she doesn’t think storing garbage in a bear-proof way will seem that revolutionary to anyone in the city.
“If you have a pile of garbage and a bear is getting into it, you have had to change the way you’re managing your garbage anyway.”
The bylaw will be back for adoption at a future council meeting.