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Mayor’s Mailbag – September 2022 Roundup – Aggressive Coyotes & Bus Stop Pads Upgrades

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Mailbag

Welcome to the Mayor’s Mailbag – September 2022 roundup.

The Mayor’s Monday Mailbag is a weekly initiative Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor’s Office has launched to share answers to questions from the public we’ve received through our main email inbox at mayor@burlington.ca or the Mayor’s social media platforms.

At the end of the month, we publish a roundup of those most pressing questions we’ve received in the weeks prior.

Mayor’s Mailbag – September 2022 Roundup

AGGRESSIVE COYOTES

QUESTION:

“Why has there been an increase in coyote attacks in Burlington and what is the city doing to ensure the safety of residents? Why can’t the aggressive coyotes be relocated?”

ANSWER:

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward has connected with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) –through support from Burlington MPP Natalie Pierre and Oakville North-Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos — and gained expert advice on why there has been frequent coyote attacks in our city recently and further recommendations on how to handle this critical situation.

Based on the advice we’ve received from staff at the MNRF, and field researchers with Coyote Watch Canada, the aggressive behaviours we’ve recently experienced is the direct result of illegal feeding of wildlife — either intentionally or unintentionally.  This has conditioned certain coyotes to view people as a source of food and since these wild animals cannot differentiate between individuals, they become aggressive when food is not provided during an encounter with a person.

Once a coyote has been conditioned to no longer fear people, the trait cannot be unlearned. In addition, if they attack a person, it is our responsibility as a municipality to unfortunately eliminate those animals as a result. The elimination of a coyote is done by a Certified Wildlife Control Professional with support from City Animal Control staff and Halton Regional Police Service.

The elimination of a wild animal is not an outcome Council or City staff want to see occur, so we cannot stress enough how critical it is not to feed local wildlife, either intentionally or unintentionally. Please make sure you properly dispose of your food waste — being mindful of how your garbage is placed outside — so that it does not become an unintended potential food source for animals.  We all need to do our part to keep each other safe with the wildlife that lives among us.

Council and City staff are taking this situation very seriously. The unanimous approval by Council, at a special meeting on Sept. 14, of 17 significant additional actions under our Coyote Response Strategy, is a clear indication to our community of our commitment to ensuring public safety and an end to these attacks. Some of these approved coyote management actions include increased dumping fines, targeted cutback of vegetation, and engaging with coyote specialist resources. You can read more about it here on the Mayor’s website.

In addition, the City’s Bylaw Department has been looking into potential private properties that might be neglected and could be ideal denning places for coyotes. Bylaw Officers are being dispatched and prioritizing bringing these properties to meet bylaw requirements and to remove any opportunities for coyotes to stay where they should not be. Temporary signage has been put up in areas where attacks have occurred to warn residents, the City has provided residents with free whistles at pickup sites across the city so they can be used as a hazing tactic if they encounter a coyote — these are standard whistles and can also be purchased from any sports vendor.

Mayor Meed Ward, Council and City of Burlington staff thank the residents who have reached out to us and the local community group Burlington Oakville Coyote Management for their research and recommendations on coyote management in our city.

Why can’t the aggressive coyotes be relocated?

According to experts from MNRF, once coyotes become unafraid and habituated to human feeding, it is very difficult — if not impossible — to rehabilitate them to re-establish a natural fear of humans. Hazing can be effective, but only in the early stages of habituation.

When it comes to relocation, coyotes are territorial — they will defend their home range against other invading coyotes. The idea of re-introducing a habituated coyote into another location already inhabited by coyotes is very unlikely to be a good outcome for human residents (as it shifts the problem elsewhere) or the relocated coyote itself. Consequently, the MNRF’s position is that relocation is not an option.

With respect to relocating to a wildlife sanctuary, these sanctuaries are intended to rehabilitate wild animals with the objective of returning them to the wild.  In the case of coyotes habituated to humans, MNRF has been clear it is very difficult, if not impossible, to unteach this behaviour. So, as a result, relocation to a wildlife sanctuary would not be appropriate.

Additionally, the intent behind why the MNRF has a policy that restricts the release distance for wildlife is to:

  • Prevent the spread of diseases and parasites;
  • Give the animal its best chance of survival by ensuring that it is released close to its home range;
  • Reduce potential for problem activity elsewhere;
  • Ensure carrying capacity not surpassed in an area; and
  • Prevent exchange of genetic materials among different populations.

•                    •                    •

BUS STOP PADS UPGRADES

QUESTION:

“Why are bus stop pads in the City of Burlington getting upgrades?”

ANSWER:

Why was the program initiated?

  • In 2020 and 2021, Burlington Transit staff assessed every bus stop in the city – that’s more than 900 stops! The review included condition assessments of accessibility, concrete, assets (bench, shelter, garbage container, bus stop pole and sign) and location.
  • Burlington Transit regularly reviews the bus stops throughout the city, and routine assessments include many factors, such as safety and accessibility.

Why has the size of the pads increased?

  • Several pads increased in size for accessibility and to adhere to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Many of our transit riders use mobility devices to help them get around, but not everyone is eligible for Specialized Transit using the City’s HandiVan service.
  • The bus stop pads have been increased in size to allow both front and back doors to open on a concrete surface.
  • Having a larger, wider pad ensures that everyone, including those with mobility aids, can enter and exit the bus easily and safely. While it’s easy to recognize these large pads in the summer, consider the accessibility challenges that exist when a bus stop is full of snow and a rider has to exit onto a snow bank, or on rainy days exiting the bus onto mud.
  • While not everyone needs a larger pad right now, we have to consider how the city’s demographics may change in the future where more people may begin using mobility aids to get around and will be thankful for the extra space.
  • The larger pads were presented to the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee in 2019 who supported the larger size.

How many bus stops will be upgraded as part of this project?

  • There are approximately 100 bus pads being upgraded as part of this project.
  • A number of the new shelters will use solar power to illuminate the shelter ads.

What is the timing of the project completion?

  • Weather permitting, the project is anticipated to be completed by the end of the summer 2022.
  • It should be noted that several of the stops will have new shelters installed. Due to supply chain challenges, these are delayed slightly.

We want to give a huge shout-out to Burlington Transit staff for their continued efforts to ensure that every transit rider has a safe trip from start to finish. The changes that this project brings to the City’s transit infrastructure will certainly be appreciated by many riders as soon as it is completed and for many years to come.

•                    •                    •

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2 thoughts on “Mayor’s Mailbag – September 2022 Roundup – Aggressive Coyotes & Bus Stop Pads Upgrades”

  1. Hi Mayor Meed Ward,
    I looked at the city web site regarding coyotes and found no place to report food left out for animals. At Central Park on Sunday at 5p.m. at the Guelph Line parking lot (in an area where coyotes are sighted) I found a large handful of kibble had been left near the picnic table. I thought it would be worth mentioning to the relevant city department given the current issues with coyotes.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Brian, this is John on the Mayor’s team. The online form at burlington.ca/coyotes used to report a coyote sighting, can also be used to report a potential problem related to an overgrown building site, garbage or someone intentionally or accidentally feeding a coyote.

      You can also call 905-335-3030 to report a coyote sighting or potential feeding issue. Please be ready to provide location details.

      I hope this helps and thank you for helping the City of Burlington regarding this issue.

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A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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