A Sooke-based education program is continuing the push to provide bear-resistant bins as an option across the district.
Sooke council voted to write a letter of support to convince local waste management centres, such as Green for Life Environmental Inc. and Sooke Disposal Ltd., to consider accommodating the request.
Wild Wise Sooke works to reduce human and wildlife conflict. Last year, the community-based education program spread into Metchosin and Colwood, and soon hopes to start programs at Shawnigan Lake and the Cowichan Valley.
Bear-proof bins are usually known for tight sealing lids that lock, as well as latches that are impenetrable by the bear. The bins should be stable and can be anchored to the ground and withstand several thousand pounds of force.
Regular garbage bins pose no challenge to most bears, as they can learn the shape of a bin and how to open it easily.
Wild Wise Sooke shared on its Facebook page that bear-resistant bins would be beneficial for residents who don’t have access to a secure garage or shed to store their garbage, those who have mobility issues and others working nights or shift workers who can’t put their bin out on the morning of collection.
According to a 2019 study by Royal Roads students, the lower end price for a bear-resistant bin would be $150, while a more high-end model could cost $300 or more. The study also states that roughly 1,400 Sooke households would benefit from a bear-resistant bin based on the number of private residences in Sooke.
The cost of 1,400 bear-resistant bins could range from $210,000 to $490,000.
According to the 2019 survey, 86 per cent of residents who subscribe to curbside pickup said they’d be interested in using a bear-resistant bin. Meanwhile, 10 per cent said they felt it would be unnecessary, and three per cent had other concerns, such as bins being too heavy for people with limited mobility to use or being difficult to clean.
Also, 54 per cent of survey respondents who were interested in using bear-resistant bins felt that if their use were to become mandatory, they should be provided by Sooke.
According to the study, if the district were to provide these specific bins for all Sooke households, like in Port Alberni, it could cost between $840,000 to $1.7 million. Grant funding from the province may be available to assist with the cost.
“As we all know, a fed bear is a dead bear,” said Sooke Coun. Jeff Bateman.
“The goal here is to stop them from coming back after they’ve had their first taste [for garbage]. We can save a bear’s life with these bins, and I’m glad this conversation is happening because the goal is to keep both humans and wildlife coexisting here in Sooke.”
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