Living so intertwined with nature means constant talks about residents of the Town of Lake Cowichan’s interactions with various forms of wildlife they share the region with.
Most recently, it’s been talk about how to handle the bears.
While some believe Lake Cowichan has the distinction of being the community on Vancouver Island with the highest number of bear euthanizations for 2022, BC Conservation Officer Mark Kissinger said he doesn’t believe that to be the case.
Statistics aside, the conservation officer did confirm, however, that his office did spend a great deal of time in the region dealing with bears.
Town administrator Joe Fernandez told council at a recent meeting that the BC Conservation Officer Service isn’t pleased about it either.
“They’re not happy with this area,” Fernandez said. “They’ve made that very clear.”
Lake Cowichan Mayor Tim McGonigle confirmed that at a recent meeting council voted to implement much steeper fines for those who don’t adhere to putting their garbage out the day of pickup only.
The fines are now $250.
“It had been $25,” McGonigle said. “We got a report from Bear Aware on some implementation of fines and some of them are up to $5,000 but we thought that was a little exorbitant,” he added, so council settled on $250.
Not only can town bylaw officials write tickets but, conservation officers are able to write up fines as well.
While penalizing residents for not following the stricter rules, the town is also actively working to reduce its animal conflict possibilities.
“Moving forward we’re going to look at budgetary implementation of bear-proof garbage receptacles throughout town,” McGonigle noted. “The ones currently in place will be looked at being changed out for bear-resistant ones.”
There was also discussion at the meeting around the idea of requiring a structure at every residence in which garbage containers must be kept and locked.
“It would be problematic to implement and try to incorporate,” McGonigle said. So for now, council will focus on keeping tabs on those who put their trash out too early, and make sure that the town is, too, on the track to being more bear aware.