Edmontonians could soon face a fine for feeding wildlife on public and private property after councillors endorsed a new bylaw Wednesday.
The bylaw, first needing to pass three readings of council Monday before coming into effect, was sparked by several concerns about an increased coyote presence across the city as a result of feeding.
Council’s community and public services committee unanimously supported the proposed bylaw that includes $250 fines for feeding wildlife in public as well as intentionally feeding coyotes on private property. A $500 fine would be tied to feeding wildlife, feral cats or birds “in a way that leads to a public safety risk, health risk or nuisance condition.”
Dr. Allan Pickard, a resident of Laurier Heights, which has seen an increasing coyote population, said this new rule will be a proactive measure in reducing the amount of interactions with coyotes searching for food in neighbourhoods.
“The risks that habituated urbanized wildlife and wildlife feeding cause are real and worthy of our concern,” he said. “I am concerned about increasing reports of habituated coyotes injuring humans. As a city, we should also be concerned and put our efforts into preventing these problems by creating this bylaw. An ounce of prevention will always be better than a pound of cure.”
Under the proposed bylaw, residents must also not use or allow wildlife attractants on their properties, which could include excessive accumulation of edible materials and accessible rotten food. Habituation or increased wildlife presence and property damage by wildlife due to the availability of food are deemed nuisance conditions that may generate enforcement.
Councillors stopped short of a more restrictive rule due to community pushback, which included mandating the removal of any fallen fruit within three days as well as ensuring bird feeders are suspended from cables to be out of the reach of wildlife.
Safe bike passing distance
Meanwhile, councillors also decided to move forward on crafting a minimum distance requirement for motorists when passing cyclists on the road. The city will now draft a bylaw to go before a public hearing that would require drivers to leave at least one metre of room when passing cyclists on a road with a speed limit of 60 km/h or less, and 1.5 metres on roads of higher speeds.
Eight provinces have legislation around safe passing distances, but such a regulation doesn’t exist in Alberta. The province’s rules state that a person driving a vehicle shouldn’t overtake or pass another vehicle if the move can’t be made safely, but doesn’t define a minimum passing distance or provide guidelines.
Aaron Schooler, co-chair of the Alberta Cycling Coalition, said this required passing distance will make roads safer for cyclists where there aren’t separated bike lanes in place.
“For cyclists, the No. 1 most important item for us was quantifying the safe passing distance,” he said. “We hope to strive to change that subjective law and provide an objective, measurable minimum distance to it.”
If passed, the rule would follow the model in Calgary dating back to September 2019 with an associated violation fine of $203.