Sudbury’s new bylaw aimed at curbing nuisance bear problem starts Friday

Nuisance bear

After one of the worst bear seasons Sudbury has faced in recent history, the city is hoping a new bylaw will keep the animals away.

Last summer, the Sudbury police received a total of 1,700 bear-related calls. According to reports, that’s more than the previous five years combined.

In attempt to address the issue, the city passed a new bylaw in the fall, which runs from April 1 to November 30. The new bylaw states that garbage can’t be put on the curb at night. Instead, residents will have to ensure they’re up early on garbage day, bringing it out between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.

While Timmins and Elliot Lake have enforced similar bylaws for years, they’re some of the few cities in Ontario to do so.

Sudbury city councillor Al Sizer, who helped move the bylaw forward, told CBC News that he faced some resistance from upset citizens, but he hopes people keep the issue in perspective.

“We have to [keep] in mind what we’re talking about here,” Sizer said. “Certainly if it’s a bit of an inconvenience to put your garbage out in the morning that’s certainly better than having a child or an infant hurt by  a bear.”

According to Trevor Griffin, district manager of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, it’s equally important that people stick to it.

“You can’t just put your garbage away one day and expect the bear to move on,” Griffin told CBC.

That’s because bears have incredible memories. They likely haven’t forgotten about the garbage they found in Sudbury neighbourhoods last summer, and they may return to them several times to see if food is available before finally moving on, Griffin said. 

But commenters are skeptical that the bylaw will change anything, suggesting that the city needs to do more to stop the bears, like collecting garbage multiple times a week.

The bylaw also doesn’t address dumpsters sitting outside restaurants and apartment buildings. Currently, most of them have plastic lids, and as Griffin notes, “That doesn’t stop a bear.” Creating incentives or bylaws around those dumpsters will be the city’s next step.

Only time will tell if this new law proves effective, but with bears starting to wake up from hibernation, it won’t be long before we find out.