$20k in fines issued to Vancouver stores selling bear spray

Vancouver police say they’re cracking down on businesses for breaking the city’s bylaw that restricts the sale of bear spray.

According to the VPD, during an undercover operation, officers handed out $20,000 worth of fines to 10 stores that have broken the rules.

Police say they visited 28 businesses between October and December to “purchase bear spray.” Of the businesses visited, 10 were found to be in contravention of the bylaw, specifically the portion that states they must keep records of the sales.

Vancouver’s bylaw, passed unanimously by council last year, requires sellers to keep detailed records of all sales for a 12-month period. It also says sellers must keep bear spray locked up, request ID from anyone who buys the products, and prohibits the sale of bear spray to anyone under the age of 19.

“This operation shows there is still more work needed to educate retailers and gain compliance with the new bylaw,” said Const. Tania Visintin.

Visintin adds the VPD had reached out to more than 60 businesses to provide information and education prior to enforcement. She says a more than a third of the businesses visited during the undercover operation were “breaking the rules.”

“This is about public safety and protecting our youth,” she continued in a statement.

The VPD notes bear spray is legal to possess and is often carried by people outdoors. However, it adds bear spray “becomes illegal when possessed as a weapon or used in the commission of a criminal offence.”

The department says bear spray is often involved in reports of robberies at businesses and during “street-level assaults.”

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