Revelstoke needs bear-proof garbage, Bear Aware says

<p>Maggie Spizzirri, Revelstoke’s Bear Aware coordinator, addresses council last week.</p><p> Photo by Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Review</p> -

Maggie Spizzirri, Revelstoke’s Bear Aware coordinator, addresses council last week.

Photo by Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Review

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Revelstoke is only one step away from becoming a "Bear Smart" community says Bear Aware, but it's a big one.

Maggie Spizzirri, Revelstoke's Bear Aware coordinator, told council last week that the city needed a bear resistant solid waste management plan in order to receive Bear Smart designation.

"We are very close to becoming Bear Smart and the last and most important step we need to take is to implement a bear resistant garbage system, or at least have a plan saying how we're going to take these next steps over so many years," she told council during their meeting as the Committee of the Whole on Thursday, July 13.

The provincial government outlines six steps for a community to become "Bear Smart." First, it must prepare a bear hazard assessment of the community. Second, it must have a bear/human conflict management plan in place. Third, planning and decision making documents must consider bear/human conflict. Fourthly, an education program must be in place, while step five is to have a bear-proof solid waste management system. The final step is to have bylaws in place that help prevent bears from accessing food sources.

With the recent adoption of the city's new Garbage Collection and Wildlife Attractant Bylaw, the city only needs to implement step five to become Bear Smart, said Spizzirri.

"We are working towards this and Bear Aware hopes that concrete steps will be made in this direction in the future," she said.

The city has taken some steps in this direction. This spring, it installed bear-proof garbage bins downtown and it has a centralized, bear-proof garbage collection system in Johnson Heights. Spizzirri said the Johnson Heights system was a success.

"Even though we had a high number of conflicts throughout he city in 2016, the number of conflicts in Johnson Heights actually reduced last year, which is amazing," she told council.

She said council should now start rolling out centralized garbage in all mobile home parks, new developments, campgrounds and vacation rentals as a starting point.

"As expansion plans are put into place for Revelstoke, It's increasingly important that bear aware garbage initiatives are implemented," she said.

In an interiew, Darren Komonoski, the city's manager of public works, said the city had to install video cameras at the Johnson Heights bins because people were dumping materials in them they weren't supposed to. "The centralized bins do come with its challenges as far as compliancy goes," he said.

He said the city has not looked at installing centralized collection in other areas, and that council would have to make that decision. "We could still look at a cost analysis of what it would take to put centralized bins in all the neighbourhoods or maybe just trailer parks, but I don't have council's blessing to do that," he said.

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