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Hungry critters considered in Saanich's garbage revamp

The eating habits of raccoons and bears were among the considerations for Saanich, as a new waste collection program rolls out this spring.

Garbage, fruit, compost and even unclean barbecues are known animal attractants in residential neighbourhoods, something Saanich considered when purchasing the new household bins, currently being distributed throughout the municipality.

While the green organic collection bins have a clamp to keep the lid closed tight, the black garbage carts do not.

Saanich says the bins should hold off any animal approaches, even if a smelly, fishy piece of aluminum foil makes its way into the trash.

“They’re wind-tested and it takes a fairly large animal to knock them over; a raccoon can’t knock them over,” Dave McAra, Saanich’s manager of solid waste services, said of the new bins’ sturdiness. “For them to open the lid, it’s almost impossible.”

Saanich residents will soon have to separate kitchen scraps, food leftovers and food-soiled paper products from their household garbage by way of different garbage and organic collections bins. The move comes as the Capital Regional District implements a ban on kitchen scraps at Hartland Landfill beginning in January 2015.

As the program rolls out later this spring, a resident bear in the Prospect Lake area will require that Saanich stays on top of the issue.

“We’re going to monitor that situation. These carts are probably more stable than the current (garbage bins people use),” McAra said.

He said residents in the rural community have taken their own steps in the past to keep their garbage bins from attracting bears.  According to the B.C. Conservation Foundation, some easy solutions include storing bins in a secure location and ensuring lids are closed tight. Putting bins out on collection day, as opposed the night before, also minimizes the potential to attract the bear.

“Even bear-proof carts aren’t bear proof,” McAra added. “The best solution really … is for people to take ownership of that problem. This isn’t a new problem just because we introduced new carts.”

Jude Coates, planning and traffic chair of the Prospect Lake District community association, says residents don’t seem overly concerned about animal interactions with the new bins.

“The community association hasn’t received any direct complaints or concerns about the program so far. People in this area are pretty savvy when it comes to living with wild animals,” she said. “I think the bigger concern for residents … is people feel this program is another example of rural Saanich subsidizing programs that are more relevant for the rest of Saanich.  … I think overall people understand it’s a good program and why it’s necessary for rural Saanich to subsidize the rest of Saanich.”

While the wheeled bins are steadily being dropped off in advance of the launch, residents are reminded not to use them until the first pick-up in April with the new trucks, which will be automated to lift the carts.

“Not all our equipment can handle the new carts – it’s a little frustrating for the guys (that some people are using the carts already),” McAra said. “We’re doing our best to collect them where we can, but we’re asking folks not to (use them yet).”

reporter@saanichnews.com

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Did you know?

You can sign up to receive email, text message, voicemail or Twitter reminders about your next collection day on Saanich's website. Or download the Saanich GreenerGarbage app for your smartphone that provides you with personalized collection-related information.

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