Business owners and residents in PoCo have been given a reprieve of sorts, as the city announced Monday it will defer fines for those taking steps to comply with its garbage bylaws.
The move comes mainly due to a backlog in orders for Critter Guard, the lone locking mechanism for carts and garbage cans that's been approved by the city to prevent bears from accessing garbage and other attractants.
According to bylaws manager Dan Scoones, the grace period will likely last into September, as Critter Guard company representatives have told the city orders for the locks are backlogged by at least three to four weeks.
"The big thing we're hearing from the Conservation Service now is that bears are getting into yards and finding unlocked garbage in yards in the daytime," he said. "It's time for everybody to lock it up."
Bear sightings surged in PoCo earlier this summer, though at least a portion of those sightings were attributed to just a handful of the same bears.
Scoones, however, noted bears are now being spotted more frequently on the city's south side - Mary Hill and Citadel Heights, for example - where sightings used to be uncommon.
Conservation officials have told Scoones bear sightings on the city's south side are caused by one factor alone - improperly stored garbage.
"What we have seen is bears showing up in Lions Park, Gates Park and they're showing up on the south side," Scoones said.
"Things have really taken off all over the city. So many people say there are no bears in their area. But all they're really saying is that they've never seen a bear."
PoCo residents have two options when it comes to their garbage: securing it either inside a building, or with the Critter Guard lock. The cost of those locks has been reduced from $90 to $75, including installation.
The city's solid waste bylaw stipulates garbage and other waste must be placed curbside between 5:30 and 7:30 a.m. on collection day, and re-secured by 7 p.m. that evening. Though no fines have been issued this year, those who break the bylaw face a $150 fine.
Those looking to purchase Critter Guard locks can do so by e-mailing critterguard email@example.com.
For more information around the city's bear or waste policies, log on to www.portcoquitlam.ca/Citizen_Services/Garbage_ _Recycling_and_Green_ Waste_Collection_Services/S olid_Waste_Bylaw_ Regulations.htm.
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