Revelstoke to install bear-proof bins downtown after 24 bears killed in 2016

The city plans to remove the current 'heritage' garbage bins from the downtown area and replace them with bear-proof bins this spring.

Protestors calling for bears to stop being destroyed in Revelstoke assembled at City Hall. Photo: Emily Kemp/Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo

The City of Revelstoke is purchasing bear-proof garbage bins for the downtown area before the start of the 2017 bear season. This comes after one of the worst years for bear sightings in decades in 2016, when 24 bears were killed in Revelstoke by conservation officers, and possibly some more by residents.

“Given the situation with the bears last year, we thought it would be good to replace them with bear-proof containers,” said Alan Mason, director of Economic Development.

He also noted that the current garbage bins are nearing the end of their lifecycle and need to be replaced regardless. As well, Mason said that there was concern among tourism stakeholders regarding the negative publicity Revelstoke received last year when a number of bears had to be euthanized.

“Although managing bear populations is a matter that is dealt with by the provincial conservation officers, the fact that one of the bear deaths in Revelstoke was witnessed by tourists, and the fact that the stories about the bears being put down were reported in various media outlets, resulted in negative publicity for Revelstoke as a tourism destination,” Mason wrote in a report to council.

The total cost for the bins will be $37,600 with $25,000 coming from the Resort Municipality Initiative and the remainder coming from the Public Works budget. Mason said the $12,600 from Public Works had already been factored into the 2017 budget.

“The city needs to take the lead and install bear proof cans and lead by example,” Mason said. “We can’t ask businesses to purchase bear proof cans for their use, if the city isn’t using them as well.”

Mason writes in his report, that it is probable that bears entered the downtown core in Revelstoke to access food primarily from commercial garbage containers, there were several instances of bears breaking into city garbage cans in the downtown area, which resulted in bears becoming habituated to taking garbage from these cans and other garbage containers in the city centre.

The city hopes to install them in April.

The city does have a number of bear-proof bins in parks and areas on the edge of town near the forest. The bins downtown were installed roughly two decades ago during a downtown revitalization drive. They do have latching metal tops, but the garbage is somewhat exposed and didn’t stop the clever, motivated bears.

For more background, here are some of our stories on the 2016 bear season

Revelstoke not bear smart as more bears destroyed

Bear shot in downtown Revelstoke

Pro-bear protest storms Revelstoke’s downtown

Black bear forces Revelstoke resident out of plum tree

What can Revelstoke do to stop the bear slaughter?