Vancouver bear spray regulation recommendations made to council

Vancouver city council is looking at recommendations that would regulate the sale of bear spray in the city.

The proposed bylaw would ban anyone under the age of 19 from buying bear spray in Vancouver. It would also require sellers to keep detailed records of all purchases for 12-month periods, with that information available upon request to the city to ensure compliance.

According to a report to council, the recommendation to regulate sales comes amid “public safety concerns raised by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).” It points to data from the VPD that suggests bear spray attacks involving youth have jumped from 52 in 2018 to 115 just last year, with “approximately 3,000 violent offences related to bear spray reported” to police in that time frame.

In addition to prohibiting the sale of bear spray to minors, and sellers keeping detailed records, the report also recommends retailers be required to “keep bear spray in a locked or inaccessible area from the public.”

“Staff also recommend amendments to the Ticket Offences By-law to make it a ticket offence with a stipulated fine of $1,000 for noncompliance with any of the above requirements,” the report reads.

Staff say the recommendations are a “proactive measure to increase public safety,” with the aim of “potentially reducing” crimes using these products.

Council is also being asked to consider sending a letter to the province calling for tougher regulations on bear spray across B.C.

The report points to previous “similar challenges to public safety” that the city has encountered, such as with fireworks. It notes in such cases, the city has brought in regulations “that have produced meaningful outcomes.”

“Staff did not consider an outright ban on the sale of bear spray to ensure adults who require bear spray for its intended usage still have access to it at businesses in Vancouver. The recommendations proposed by staff are aimed at striking a balance between protecting public safety while supporting businesses,” the report reads.

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