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Creston bylaw to prevent human-bear interaction passes two readings

Nearly a year after Bear Aware representatives asked Creston town council to take steps to discourage bear activity in the urban area...
Creston Town Hall is located on 10th Avenue North.

Nearly a year after local Bear Aware representatives asked Creston town council to take steps to discourage bear activity in the urban area the first two readings of a bylaw amendment were passed in Tuesday’s regular council meeting.

Amendments to waste management regulations bylaw No. 1395 are attended to reduce attractants to “problem animals” on properties within the Town of Creston.

The bylaw amendment is not without controversy, though, as Couns. Jerry Schmalz and. Scott Veitch recorded no votes on the bylaw readings.

Schmalz has contended from discussions since last year that such a bylaw can’t be enforced and that public education is the best approach to deal with the issue.

“I see this as another way that enforcement officials can invade your private space to ensure that you are sweeping up your spilt bird seed every three days,” he said on Thursday. “How ridiculous! I do believe that we have to look seriously at the issues that we are trying to police and in my estimation this bylaw goes too far.

“I do not believe that we have a human/bear issue in Creston but we should be conscious of it becoming a concern and do our best to act proactively.”

Veitch echoed the concerns cited by Schmalz.

“The people I have talked to about this amendment are opposed to it,” he said. “People come here because it’s a great place to garden and grow fruit, but many of them also go away for periods of time. Are we going to start punishing people for that? …

“I think there are lots of problems with this bylaw and I don’t think every issue can be addressed with laws. Is someone going to come up onto my deck to inspect my barbecue to make sure it’s clean? I think public education is the way to go, but I’m really not sure that bears in town have been a problem.”

The amendments would require property owners and occupiers to remove and dispose of fallen fruit from trees bushes at least every three days. Containers (including garbage cans) with problem animal attractants in them must have locking lids or be stored out of reach of problem animals.

Problem animal attractants are defined in the proposed amendments as antifreeze, paint, food or other edible products, food waste, unclean barbecues, beehives, bird feeders, improperly maintained composts, grease barrels, accumulated accessible fruit and any other edible product or waste that could attract animals.

Probably more controversial is that bird feeders (with the exception of hummingbird feeders) containing feed will not be allowed between April 15 and Dec. 1 of each year. At all other times feeders must be suspended so they are not accessible to other animals and fallen feed must be removed from the ground and “properly disposed of” at least every three days.

The third and final readings of the bylaw amendments are expected to go before council on May 8.