Deer discussion delayed to March

Too-full February agenda moves discussion to March 21 meting

Council’s conversation on deer is rescheduled for its March committee of the whole meeting after council deemed the February agenda too full.

The subject of deer had been tentatively suggested for the Feb. 15 meeting when council also plans to discuss the Uplands sewer separation project and the final stages of an age-friendly strategy.

“When we have deer on the agenda, that tends to be filled with lots of input and lots of views,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

Options were to add it to the Feb. 22 council meeting or put the conversation over to March.

Coun. Eric Zhelka made a bid to have a portion of the topic discussed during Monday’s meeting in an effort to apply for a government grant to start on a portion of the Oak Bay proposal by the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.

The Provincial Urban Deer Operational Cost Share Program provides financial support to local governments this fiscal year within their jurisdiction.

Eligible projects could be operational activities or research trials. The province indicates research includes trials in translocation and immuno-contraception which is a major component of the UWSS proposal.

The UWSS Oak Bay Deer Management Plan includes a “survey of community attitudes” drafted by the society’s scientists and reviewed by an expert. The survey is “shovel-ready” and eligible for matching funds as a first, essential step toward a larger deer management program in the municipality, said vice-president Kristy Kilpatrick in a letter.

While content with pushing the discussion to March, Coun. Tara Ney agreed components of the UWSS program could be plucked out and offered as a shovel-ready program in a grant application. “I am disappointed if we can’t find a way to get an application in to the province,” Ney said.

With the bid to have the survey discussed Feb. 15 defeated, Zhelka urged council to consider asking the UWSS to have the paperwork in place with the survey funding in mind. Other members around the table questioned whether staff would have time to aid in the application, which must come from local government, and whether the proposed survey would be applicable as deer-reduction research.

Ney argued it “could be seen as part of an action research project.”

Rushing the process to get a grant could backfire, said Coun. Kevin Murdoch.

“It’s probably worthwhile having some public input,” he said. “I don’t think it should be shoehorned in … If it’s not where we want to go as a council, it’s not money well-spent.”

The deadline to apply was Jan. 8 however, the province has indicated late applications would be considered. The program runs to March 31.

Council opted to put the entire discussion over to the March 21 committee meeting, 7 p.m. at municipal hall 2167 Oak Bay Ave.