Vancouver city council will consider regulating the display and sale of bear spray at a meeting next week, amid public safety concerns raised by the Vancouver police.
A report from the city’s general manager of development, buildings and licensing going to council on Tuesday proposes the city amend its licensing bylaw to ban the sale of bear spray to anyone under the age of 19, and to require other buyers to present ID.
It also calls for retailers to keep bear spray in a locked area, and for sellers to record details of each sale and keep them on file for a year.
If council approves the changes, it would also add a $1,000 fine for non-compliance with the new measures.
“Regulating the sale of bear spray is a proactive measure to increase public safety and potentially reduce the number of violent offences involving these products in Vancouver, particularly by youth,” the report states.
“Staff did not consider an outright ban on the sale of bear spray to ensure adults who require bear spray for its intended usage still have access to it at businesses in Vancouver.”
Vancouver police approached the city in 2022 with concerns about bear spray and asked the city to implement restrictions, according to the report.
It said bear spray incidents involving youth in Vancouver in 2022 increased by 121 per cent over 2018.
Any changes would only apply to the City of Vancouver, and the report calls on council to also write to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to ask for bear spray to be classified provincially as a restricted pesticide.
Anyone selling a restricted pesticide must have a provincial vendor license, which is subject to provincial oversight for records and reporting.
The report cites the examples of Surrey, Chilliwack and Port Coquitlam, which put restrictions on the sale of bear spray in 1998, 2021 and 2022, respectively, banning sales to minors.
Surrey and Chilliwack have also limited its sale to sporting goods stores, and implemented record and reporting requirements.
According to the city report, Chilliwack RCMP reported a 49-per cent drop in files involving the use of bear spray.
It said 2022 data from Surrey showed 158 fewer violent bear-spray related incidents than Vancouver.