View Royal will explore introducing new measures to prevent wildlife from interacting with household waste following a presentation by residents of a neighbourhood where a bear was euthanized in June.
Council unanimously approved a motion to direct staff to explore options such as introducing new rules on household waste storage and new bear-proof garbage bins for residents and public spaces on Sept. 5 – part of a list of requests Andrea Miller and Melanie Austin made to council.
Miller and Austin live near Thetis Lake Regional Park and said their neighbourhood is no stranger to wildlife interactions given many of the homes back onto the park, often without any fences to help secure yards.
They told council conservation officers were forced to euthanize a mother bear and relocate two cubs on June 23 after multiple reports the bear had been accessing unsecured attractants on residential properties. The bear had already been relocated unsuccessfully in the past for the same issue and now had no fear of humans, making it a public safety risk.
The bear’s death left a mark on the neighbourhood, with Miller’s daughter going so far as to create a memorial for it. The pair told council they are united in wanting to ensure it never happens again.
“Andrea and I, and several others in our neighbourhood, are very determined to take whatever steps we can to avoid having any other bears euthanized in our neighbourhood, and we are asking you for your help,” said Austin.
They asked council to consider developing a new wildlife attractants bylaw to set out regulations regarding leaving food waste and other animal attractants unsecured by requiring secure storage either through bear-proof bins or by keeping waste in an enclosed area until the day of pickup, rather than the night before. Other ideas included rules around cleaning barbecues, collecting fallen fruit from trees and compost piles.
They also asked the town to provide bear-proof bins to residents, initially through a pilot project in neighbourhoods nearest animal habitats, and eventually the entire town. They also want to replace existing open garbage bins in public spaces with bear-proof bins as seen in some Capital Regional District parks.
They said municipalities in the province like Kamloops and Port Alberni have implemented similar policies which could be used to guide View Royal, and the town should ideally strive to become a Bear Smart Community as recognized by the province.
Council unanimously supported the request, and suggested Miller and Austin make a similar presentation to the CRD, in addition to directing staff to explore their requests and contact their colleagues in Kamloops to learn more about the actions that municipality has taken to earn the Bear Smart Community designation.