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More waste bins being put out early in Castlegar

The introduction of curbside composting in Castlegar has led to an uptick of residents putting their waste bins out early.

That’s the finding of WildsafeBC, which does regular audits and places tags on prematurely placed bins. Under the city’s bylaw, bins are not supposed to be on the curb before 4 a.m. on the day of collection.

Wildsafe co-ordinator Tara Pejski told city council last week that they spent 23 nights tagging this year and found 124 residential bins out too early, up from 60 last year. They also tagged 36 commercial pins, up from 16 last year.

The city wrote 13 tickets this year, which was lower than 23 last year, but higher than the nine issued in 2021. Pejski explained the city allowed a grace period due to the learning curve for organics pickup.

Between April 25 and Aug. 8, before the organics program started, Wildsafe spent 10 nights on patrol and tagged 50 bins. Between Aug. 20 and Nov. 1, after curbside composting began, they were out for 13 nights and tagged 74 bins. September was their busiest month, Pejski said.

“Even though the education behind the organics program was truly really wonderful, there’s still some learning to be done,” she said. “I think if people are just putting in branches and grass clippings, they think it’s okay.”

However, she said habituated bears associate garbage bins with food regardless of what is actually in it. Nor do they differentiate based on bin size.

“If the bin is out [early], it’s at risk,” she said.

Pejski recommended continuing with bin tagging next year and increasing the frequency of commercial bin tagging. She also suggested further education on the organics program and issuing tickets to repeat offenders.

Five bears were destroyed in Castlegar this year, all at the beginning of the season, compared to nine last year. The city also saw a reduced number of complaints to the provincial RAPP line this year, which has been partly credited to the new organics program.

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