City Council to discuss bear ordinance
A proposed bear ordinance that could hit the pocketbook of almost anyone who pays for trash removal will be discussed Tuesday night when the Steamboat Springs City Council meets.
The council is considering a law that would require residents to use wildlife-resistant trash containers, regardless of where they live in the city and when they leave their trash out.
City officials initially intended to hold the first reading of the bear ordinance at its Tuesday meeting but then decided to get the council input first.
“This is a preliminary discussion to ask for direction, for council to get public input beforehand,” Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said.
The council also plans to hold a meeting Thursday with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Steamboat Springs Police Department to talk about wildlife issues and the proposed ordinance.
If passed, DuBord said, the ordinance most likely would not go into effect until spring. The delay of enforcement will allow the city to educate the public.
“We want to seek community input first, because there are financial impacts to everyone,” she said. “We want to educate the public on what this means, what they can do and what their options are.”
Under the proposed ordinance, residents would be required to build, purchase or rent a wildlife-resistant container.
True Value Hardware sells DOW-approved containers at $197.50 for a 95-gallon trash can, and $179.50 for a 64-gallon trash can.
Waste Management also has a program that allows customers to purchase an animal-resistant trash container for $25 and pay $5 a month to have it serviced. The cost includes replacing the trash can if anything happens to it.
Jay Harris, site manager for Waste Management, said the company does not charge customers for servicing wildlife-resistant containers if they did not buy the can from the trash collector. The company does not anticipate charging those users in the future.
Waste Management might have to change the animal-resistant containers it has sold to its users if the council decides that only DOW-approved containers are allowed.
“We have to see how much we can afford to eat and how much we can pass on to the customer,” Harris said.
Waste Management also will be effected by the increase in time it could take to service the cans, which could require locking mechanisms to keep out wildlife.
“I think any way you look at it, everyone’s trash bill is going to go up,” Harris said.
People also could build their own wildlife-resistant containers, and the city has directions about how to do so, DuBord said.
Under the proposed ordinance, commercial Dumpsters would also have to be converted to wildlife-resistant containers, DuBord said.
The city has a bear ordinance in place, which was adopted in 2001 and requires wildlife-resistant trash containers for any garbage that is put out before 5 a.m. and left out after 6 p.m. on trash pickup day. After pickup, all containers must be returned to a building, house, garage or Dumpster enclosure.
This summer, city officials began enforcing the ordinance. They issued more than 280 warnings and four citations.
City officials worked with the DOW and its municipal judge to create an ordinance that was easier to enforce, DuBord said. The main reason for the ordinance is to keep bears away from trash and to keep everyone safe, she said.
— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229
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