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Number of warnings for taking trash out early in Coquitlam drops by half

Click to play video: 'Coquitlam residents outraged over ‘cash grab’ garbage fines' Coquitlam residents outraged over ‘cash grab’ garbage fines
Some Coquitlam residents are accusing the city of being heavy-handed after they were slapped with $500 fines for putting their garbage out too early. Jennifer Palma has more – Jun 9, 2018

A recent crackdown in Coquitlam, B.C. on residents taking their trash out early seems to be getting results.

The city says it’s seen a decreasing number of human-bear conflicts since the measures were put in place nearly six months ago.

READ MORE: It costs you hundreds of dollars to put out your garbage early in Coquitlam

What’s more, Coquitlam Environmental Services manager Steffanie Warriner told Global News the city has handed out about 2,000 violation warnings this year.

While that number seems high, it’s about half the number of violation warnings handed out by this time last year.

However, Warriner said that at this point in the season, managing food waste is more important than ever.

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“[The bears’] natural food sources are becoming increasingly scarce,” she said, adding: “Of course, we’ve had very hot temperatures recently, very dry conditions recently, so the likelihood of bears and other animals foraging for non-natural food and wanting access to garbage is going to increase over the next couple of months and into the fall.”

Coquitlam has been trying a mixture of education and enforcement to crack down on people taking their trash out early on garbage day.

Under the city’s bylaw, anyone who puts their bin out before 5:30 a.m. on pickup day could be slapped with a $500 fine.

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However, the city has tended to hand out warnings to violators ahead of tickets. While around 2,000 warnings have been handed out this year, just 80 people have been fined.

That’s also a decrease compared to this time last year when about 200 people had received tickets.

“We’re really, really encouraged by this trend. We’re really hopeful that we’ll see this trend continue,” said Warriner.

READ MORE: British Columbians do not know enough about how to behave during wildlife encounters, expert says

“And we’re very proud of our community for banding together and making the effort to comply with the regulations and do what needs to be done to secure garbage to make sure bears are not accessing it.”

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As of June, there had been four bears put down in Coquitlam in 2018.

Residents who have received violation stickers can call the city at 604-927-3500 if they want to discuss the fines. Residents who want more information can visit the city’s website.

— With files from Jennifer Palma

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