Port Moody residents who put their trash out too early or don’t lock it up could soon be on the receiving end of hefty new fines.
City council voted unanimously on Tuesday to move ahead with a new graduated fine structure that would see the levy for a first-time offence jump from $50 to $500.
Repeat offenders could see that fine jump to $750 for a second offence, and $1,000 for a third offence.
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The initiative was brought to council by local group Port Moody, Tri-Cities Bear Aware.
The group presented data to council showing that in the last three years, 63 homes had been reported for breaking the city’s bylaw about taking trash out too early, nine of them repeat offenders.
“People don’t seem to understand these bears are our neighbours,” said group founder David Tate.
“We are moving up the mountains, especially here in Port Moody, Coquitlam, Tri-Cities. We’re moving into their territory.”
Tate said bears are increasingly becoming habituated to human food, an in turn, increasingly being killed by conservation officers.
Earlier this summer, the BC Conservation Officer Service reported a dramatic spike in the number of bears being killed.
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“I’m just tired of seeing these animals mutilated. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to the cubs,” said Tate.
Port Moody Coun. Amy Lubik said she supported the move after a summer that was particularly bad for non-compliance with the city’s trash bylaw.
“We’ve had more animals having to be put down in our community this summer than any that I can remember, to be honest with you,” she said.
Lubik said local rescue organizations such as Critter Care are seeing an uptick in orphaned cubs. She said the situation is getting to the point where people are hesitant to call conservation officers when they see a bear out of fear it will be killed.
“We have to do something,” she said.
“A lot of communities have way steeper fines than we do. So I think we’re just kind of getting in line with what what other communities have done.”
The current fine for putting trash out too early or not securing it in neighbouring Coquitlam currently sits at $500.
Lubik said the new fine structure will need to go to staff and return to council before going into effect, but said council was hoping to expedite it to have it in place before bears hibernate for the year.
Port Moody’s solid waste bylaw requires all trash and compost bins to be secured with a lock. They can only be unlocked at 5:30 a.m. on collection days, and must be re-secured by 8 p.m. that night.