Last fall, four bears were euthanized due to their dependence on residential waste. As previously communicated, a committee was formed to address the multitude of requests asking the DRCA to take action to protect our wildlife and residents. The committee was made up of volunteers who came forward to offer assistance and, in addition, several passionate residents were proactively contacted to ask if they would participate. Everyone joined in enthusiastically. After several months of research and information gathering, it became abundantly clear that waste management was a critical component to success or failure in all communities similar to ours that had also tackled co-existing with wildlife.
The DRCA then reached out to our Ward 6 office to seek its assistance in securing a meeting with the City of Calgary Waste & Recycling Services department. This meeting was granted and, after hearing our presentation and request for its expertise and support, the Waste and Recycling department agreed and jumped on board to take the lead. The original request from the DRCA was twofold: firstly, to have the City provide its expertise and resources regarding appropriate waste and recycling practices for a community such as ours; and, secondly, that Discovery Ridge immediately be considered for alternative bear-resistant green bins.
From there, the research and work done by the Waste & Recycling team was extensive, and dozens of municipalities were contacted around North America for discussions and knowledge. A fulsome education and communication plan was developed, and the City’s Bear Awareness campaign actively began in May. Regular update meetings were held with the DRCA, and feedback from the DRCA and committee was always accepted. After months of work, it was determined that the greatest successes come from bins being stored securely and not placed out overnight for collection. As a result, in Discovery Ridge, bins should be stored in a secure location and not placed out for pickup prior to 5 am on pickup days and stored away again no later than 7 pm to minimize the opportunity for wildlife to become habituated to residential waste.
As part of the City’s review process, centralized bins, similar to those used in Canmore, for example, were considered. It was determined that the decrease in service levels provided to the community by moving from curbside pickup to drop-off locations was not appropriate at this time.
Regarding the green bins themselves, there are many alternative green bin options in existence that generally fall into one of two styles. One is a latch style that the resident has to unlock and re-lock each time compost is added and then unlock at curbside on pickup day. The second style has lids that are released at a certain height and angle above the collection truck. Communities that have this system reported a high failure rate of the bins not opening, in particular in areas with winter weather similar to ours. While the bin options were thoroughly investigated, the City has determined not to pursue alternative green bins at this time. This decision was based on the increased cost of bins and the high failure rates. The DRCA will continue to engage in conversations with the City regarding this matter, and we have offered Discovery Ridge as a pilot community to try different options in the hope alternative green bins could be pursued further and the best bins could be procured eventually.
On July 27th proposed bylaw amendments were presented to the City of Calgary Community Development Committee. The proposal was unanimously passed, so it will therefore proceed to City Council this fall for review, debate, required readings, and a Council vote. The proposal is for the Director of Waste & Recycling Services to designate a community, on a temporary basis, as a Wildlife Affected Area. If a community receives this designation, residents would be required to store bins in a secure location, place bins out for collection no earlier than 5 am on pickup days, and secure bins away again no later than 7 pm during the designation period.
The initiatives and activities undertaken to date are:
- Multiple communications from the DRCA and the City in the Ridge Review newsletter, MailChimp emails, FaceBook, and other social media.
- At the request of the DRCA, the City developed a website: Be Bear Smart.
- Campaigns: #keepbinsin and Don’t Feed The Bears A Midnight Snack.
- City of Calgary bold signs placed in the community.
- Door knocking campaign: City representatives knocked on the doors of all homes in Discovery Ridge that have curbside pickup and spoke to as many residents as possible. They had informational material available as well.
- There was an information booth at the DRCA Stampede Roundup that was hosted by Alberta Fish and Wildlife and City of Calgary Waste & Recycling Residential Services.
- Garbage Day App alerts and information sharing.
- Communication and educational initiatives are ongoing and will continue into the fall when there is the greater risk of troubling wildlife/human encounters.
Did you know? 100% of the homes in Discovery Ridge that have curbside pickup have garages, and 100% of those homes have street pickup (no alleys).
Thank you is insufficient but must be said to all of the residents that have volunteered time and effort at any point along the way as well as those who are still volunteering. It was a huge task to take on, and the community is grateful to you all!
While most of the information above has been shared in the past, we felt the timing was right for a recap. If you wish to contact us on the matter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.