By Laura Keil

Last week the Goat reported on several bear-garbage incidents in Valemount. It appears this year is a bad one, and even precautions such as putting garbage cans in sheds has not stopped these enterprising bears.

I think most people are taking reasonable measures to avoid luring bears to their property due to garbage, such as not putting their garbage bins out too early, but there’s one major barrier for people disposing of smelly garbage on non-pick-up days and anyone living out of town: dump hours. There are two times a year, when bears are most likely to get into garbage, spring and fall, and also these times of year when dump hours go back to “winter hours” – this year, we reverted Sept 1st, two months earlier than normal, with the dump closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

For anyone moving out of their house on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or going on holiday, this is a big problem. What do we do with the garbage? The solution “just freeze it” is not a valid solution. A) who has that much space in their freezer? B) Eww.

Hiring a second employee at the transfer station would alleviate this problem. The dump could then extend its opening hours (9-4 weekdays and 10-4 weekends) which is currently hard for anyone working regular hours who needs to make a dump run during the week.

I’d like to see expanded hours at the transfer station during peak bear seasons and I’d also encourage the Village to look at perhaps a twice-weekly garbage pick-up schedule during this time, or perhaps a central drop-off location for residents on non-pick-up days using bear-proof containers. This would allow the village to dispose of problematic garbage without incurring the cost of doing the entire route. This is just one possible solution, among many others if we put our heads together.

The government can’t expect residents to be bear-aware if they don’t give us options. I encourage you to let your elected reps know you also consider this a problem.