With bears set to gorge to prepare for hibernation, B.C. Conservation Officer Service is reminding people not to leave their waste bins out overnight.
Sgt. Stuart Bates, with BCCOS, said residents are not allowed to put out garbage the night before, adding that COs patrolled Wednesday and found numerous violations of bylaws that he said aren’t new rules.
“You cannot, by law, put out your garbage out the night before pickup…” said Bates. “This is like a 10-year-old law. The first few years we provided advice, the next couple of years we started handing out warnings. It’s not helping, it’s not working, so we started handing out tickets last year and people aren’t very happy with me.”
Bates said seven tickets were written Wednesday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., more than 12 hours before the next day’s garbage pickup.
Gerald Verbeem, who lives in the 1200 block of Nanaimo Lakes Road, said he and his wife were issued a $230 ticket Wednesday, along with at least five other neighbours. He called it a “scam to extort money from people” and said the whole neighbourhood is upset. He said he plans to dispute the ticket.
“I’ve lived there 30 years. I always put my garbage out the night before for them to pick it up, it’s always been no problem at all…” Verbeem said. “We should have had some prior information before they did what they did.”
He said a bear has only gotten into his garbage once before, several years ago, when it tipped over a can to get at some over-ripe pears, then left.
“We haven’t had any bear problems out here at all,” he said. “We see bears, but we haven’t had any problems.”
Bates said conservation officers generally go to areas where there are bear calls or where there have historically been bear sightings. The reason enforcement is occurring now is that conservation officers know bears come for fruit trees on the outskirts of areas like Parksville and Nanaimo at this time of year.
“We know they’re going to be here at the end of September and October, so we’re going now because we’re trying to head the bears off from that garbage and have people secure their garbage before the bears show up…” said Bates. “If they just get the apples, it’s a temporary food source, then they leave. But if they come here for the apples and they find that garbage, they’ll never leave and then I end up dealing with them and I really don’t want to have to deal with them, I would prefer not to.”
The City of Nanaimo’s municipal solid waste collection bylaw notes that carts should be put out “by 8 a.m. on the appropriate scheduled collection day.” The Regional District of Nanaimo’s garbage collection bylaw notes that residents who receive collection service shall put waste bins out, with lids closed, no earlier than 5 a.m. and prior to 8 a.m. on collection day.