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Salmon Arm council agrees to change garbage collection bylaw to reduce risk of bear conflicts

Bylaw to protect bears

Salmon Arm council voted Monday to amend its curbside collection bylaw in order to reduce the risk of conflicts with black bears in the community.

Under the new amendments, residents will be required to put their bags and containers out for collection on the morning of collection day, rather than the night before.

Residents will also be required to store their containers or bags in a way that is inaccessible to wildlife.

In a staff report attached to the bylaw amendment, Robert Niewenhuizen, director of engineering and public works, said reports of black bears in the city have risen sharply in the last two years.

“Based on data from WildsafeBC, there has been an increase in the number of black bear reports in the city in the last two years, with 2022 seeing a 68 per cent increase over the previous six-year average, and 2024 being only slightly lower,” Niewenhuizen said.

“This has coincided with a number of reports from residents about black bears damaging their curbside collection food waste bins.”

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren spoke about the importance of this change.

“We have conservation officers in Salmon Arm now, and they have some pretty strict rules about when bears get into garbage or become habituated, hanging around homes. They have to be put down,” Lindgren said. “So this change is really important, I think, for the protection of the bears themselves.

“It's sort of proactive to make sure that bears are staying out of the city and not getting themselves into situations where conservation is forced to deal with them.”

The motion to amend the bylaw passed unanimously.

The council also passed an amended ticket information bylaw which includes a $150 ticket for “failure to keep all collection bags and containers on the parcel in a location or manner that is inaccessible to wildlife.”

The staff report stated bylaw officers will be issuing infraction warning letters to residents found to be in violation of the new rules before they resort to ticketing.

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