City Council recently passed an important bylaw concerning the feeding of wildlife. This is something I heard about a lot during my first election campaign, and I know many of my constituents have been waiting for resolution on this for quite some time. I have been working at this for a few years now, and I am very pleased at what we have accomplished.
While I first brought this idea forward in response to a problem property in one of our Ward 5 communities, I’ve come to understand that problems with feeding wildlife occur throughout the city, particularly in communities adjacent to the river valley. Edmonton was an outlier among similarly urban park-laden municipalities in not having had a wildlife feeding bylaw on the books, so this is also a matter of making sure we are caught up with common municipal practices relating to managing wildlife in an urban setting.
As we heard from residents across the city during the engagement process, the city had limited tools to protect wildlife. Bylaw officers could be dispatched and warnings issued, but as my office dug deeper in trying to find a way to resolve these issues we discovered that the City did not have adequate bylaw tools at their disposal to control and enforce this kind of behaviour on private property, even when it interfered with the ability of neighbours to enjoy their own homes and neighbourhood safely.
You can read the bylaw here. Essentially, this is a proactive measure designed to reduce the number of interactions between residents and wildlife, and to lower the risk of wildlife becoming habituated to our urban environments. Though education is our first choice, bylaw officers will now be equipped to hand out fines when necessary in situations that pose a risk to public safety or create substantial nuisance conditions.
This bylaw is not meant to crack down on bird feeders or other normal occurrences. It is meant to give the City’s bylaw team the tools they need to deal with problem offenders and extraordinary circumstances where other enforcement mechanisms have failed. I heard quite a bit of concerned feedback in late January and early February that the bylaw was going too far in proposing that attractants (i.e. fallen fruit from fruit trees) be removed from private property within three days and bird feeders be suspended with wire to make them less accessible. That section was removed from the final bylaw.
I am confident this bylaw will give our officers the latitude they need to address the issues that endanger wildlife and affect the livability of neighbourhoods and parks.
I’d like to thank the dozens of Ward 5 residents that came out several times through the Committee process to bring your perspective to this discussion. Your input made this bylaw better and more responsive to the issues you are experiencing in your neighbourhoods. As always, if you have any questions about this or any other City issues, you can feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 780-496-8120.