Bear-plagued Churchill opens 'Alcatraz of garbage'
The northern Manitoba community of Churchill is closing its dump and locking up trash in a new facility to discourage visitsby polar bears.
The town's dump will be buried, and garbage will now be stored in an old shipping and receiving hub at a former military base.
"It's a big building with a concrete floor. All the windows and doors have been covered up with metal bars to keep all the animals out," said Shawn Bobier, district supervisor with the provincial Conservation Department.
"One town employee referred to it as the 'Alcatraz of garbage,'" he added.
Tourism officials in Churchill hope the closure of the dump will improve the image of the town and its bears. No longer will tourists see the bears at the dump, surrounded by burning piles of trash.
"There are going to be less images and video of polar bears with flames in the background, or a polar bear chewing on a couch in the garbage or eating a tin can, for example, which were actually featured in National Geographic magazine," said John Gunter, who takes tourists to see the bears for Tundra Buggy Adventure.
"If we can get more pictures and more video of clean, white polar bears on snow and ice, I think we're better fulfilling the world's expectation of what polar bears should look like."
The new garbage facility will be closer to the town, and that has some people worried the bears will have more encounters with humans.
However, provincial officials point out there was not an "onslaught" of bears in Churchill last fall, when the dump was closed on a trial basis.