At the June 13 Committee of the Whole meeting, WildSafe BC Community Coordinator Kathy Murray addressed Fernie City Council in regards to communal bear resistant bins.
According to Murray’s research, 67 per cent of all of the calls made into the Conservation Officer Service between 2013 and 2016 cited garbage as the main attractant for bears in the area. To combat this, Murray said Council should remove some of the barriers to people being able to safely and securely dispose of garbage in between collection days.
“An important step in preventing human-wildlife conflict is to remove barriers and enable residents to conveniently dispose of excess garbage between collection days, 24 hours a day,” she said. “We really want to motivate people to do the right thing and make it as easy as possible.”
Murray’s proposal was to have front loading, user friendly, certified bear resistant communal dumpsters in convenient public locations. The dumpsters would be placed in designated areas, managed by the City of Fernie. She asked for two dumpsters – one for facility and one for public use – to be placed at four locations around Fernie, including City Hall, the aquatic centre, the community centre and Max Turyk gym.
“This would be a great option for people who have no garage, if they missed garbage day, shift workers, second homeowners and visitors or people leaving town,” said Murray. “It means that they have an option to dispose of excess garbage easily, rather than stockpiling it in the backyard.”
Murray received quotes from South East Disposal to upgrade the current City of Fernie dumpsters to the communal dumpsters. For each bin to be upgraded to bear resistant, the cost would be $250 per bin. To dump the communal bins twice a week, which was Murray’s suggestion, it would cost $270 per month.
Murray also budgeted for decals to be placed on the front of the bins, educating people about best bear prevention practices and how to properly dispose of garbage. Murray quoted 15 decals, 30cm by 30 cm in size, costing $22.05 each.
Council voted in favour of a motion to bring the decision forward to that evening’s regular council meeting. The official proposal was to replace eight waste bins with bear resistant bins at public locations at a cost of $2,000, including decals and signage.
At the evening’s meeting, the proposal passed without opposition. Mayor Mary Giuliano did ask city staff not to dispose of the old waste bins, as they are painted by local artists and they can be used in another capacity.