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Bear spray regulations being considered in Kelowna, top cop says

Kelowna RCMP Supt. Triance says use of bear spray as a weapon is illegal, but it is still easy to buy. Global News

With 28 per cent of assault-causing bodily harm complaints in Kelowna involving bear spray, police are seriously considering whether they should put a lid on sales.

“You can purchase bear spray at many sporting goods stores … but I think what’s really key, is that we need to inform our public that carrying bear spray for the purpose of protection from anything other than a bear, and using that as weaponry, is a criminal offense,” Supt. Kara Triance told council at a recent meeting.

“I think there’s a bit of a misnomer out there that we can use bear spray and it’s not illegal. It is truly illegal.”

Despite the illegality in non-bear-traveled areas, it’s readily available.

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She said RCMP and city officials are working to see if it’s feasible to restrict local sales of bear spray.

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Click to play video: 'Vancouver puts restrictions on the sale of bear spray'
Vancouver puts restrictions on the sale of bear spray

Similar efforts have been made in other cities and last year Vancouver city council regulated the display and sale of bear spray due to safety concerns.

Under the changes to that city’s licence bylaw, retailers are no longer able to sell bear spray to anyone under the age of 19.

Adult buyers will have to provide identification, and retailers will be required to keep a record of all sales for one year. The product must also be kept in a locked or secured area.

Businesses that violate the restrictions will face a $1,000 fine.

According to a city manager’s report, Vancouver police recorded a 121 per cent increase in bear spray incidents involving youth in Vancouver between 2018 and 2022.

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Similar restrictions have been made in Surrey, Chilliwack and Port Coquitlam.

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