We’ve sent a letter to the City of Nelson to express concern with the changes proposed for garbage pick-up. Here’s what we sent…

The West Kootenay EcoSociety, as advised by its Conservation Committee members, wish to express our concerns with The City of Nelson’s decision to require curbside waste to be deposited on the curb for pick-up only in bags (as opposed to cans).  This change effectively moves away from using ‘re-useable garbage storage’ (cans) and promotes an increasing use of large black plastic bags, and is contrary to the general move away from plastic bags undertaken by many other communities.

In addition, this change effectively bans the use of bear-resistant and other waste containers that prevent or discourage access to waste by various wildlife.  We expect this decision will result in an increase in the improper storage of garbage and to growing problems associated with wildlife being attracted to and gaining access to garbage. These outcomes will likely lead to increased human-wildlife conflicts and, ultimately, to the destruction of more bears and other wildlife within Nelson City limits. The 2016 season was a challenging one in terms of local human-bear encounters and this problem is likely to worsen due to this new policy regarding curbside garbage storage. We therefore urge the City to reconsider this new policy and explore preferred alternatives to achieve the intended objectives.

Until an alternative has been identified and implemented, we request that the City monitor curbside waste to determine how many bears and other animals (dogs, rats, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, crows, ravens, etc.) gain access to curbside waste as a result of this policy change. We also encourage the City to explore collateral implications of this policy shift (e.g.  policing costs/effort, calls to Conservation Officers, follow-up actions/efforts, etc.).

Whereas the need for a short-term policy correction has prompted this letter, we would also like to request that the City of Nelson begin serious study to move towards a Solid Waste Management System that actively reduces human-wildlife conflicts and minimizes the loss of bears and other wildlife species within the City limits. We suggest to you that taking a more comprehensive solution, rather than aiming to fix individual problems with policies that will result in new problems, will result in better overall solutions for all in the longer term.

We would appreciate a response by April 10 so that suitable changes and preparations can be made in advance of the upcoming wildlife season.

Thank you for considering these requests. Please feel free to contact us for further information.