Oak Bay takes province to task over deer control

Council will approach Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities to request the province provide resources

Speakers called for a halt to the deer cull and Oak Bay council crafted a resolution to ask the province for more help with its deer issues on Monday night.

Among the seven speakers at the council meeting Feb. 10 were a pair of Saanich residents as well as visitors Liz White and Barry McKay of Animal Alliance Canada.

“There’s nothing new here,” McKay said of the rift in the community.

“Culling doesn’t work and sometimes has the paradoxical cycle of increased population,” he added.

Oak Bay resident speakers also called for a halt to the cull, including Kristy Kilpatrick who reiterated concerns over lack of signage, public education and a survey of the community. Kilpatrick added she feels those leading the pilot project are presenting “false choices” between culling and doing nothing.

“It takes courage to stop things mid-way,” she said.

A supporter of the cull spoke last in the 20-minute public participation period. Andrew Stinson noted that deer was a hot topic during the election and the mayoral candidate in favour of a cull won the vote.

“I firmly believe Oak Bay has a mandate to carry out the cull,” he said. “Do not listen to the minority of Oak Bay.”

While the opponents of the cull were greeted with applause, Stinson’s comments were booed.

The crowd stayed to hear Oak Bay’s plan to ask the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities to take the province to task on its deer.

During the AVICC annual general meeting and convention, municipal governments gather to bring forward issues and concerns from their individual communities through resolutions and debates.

Oak Bay will ask AVICC to request the province provide resources including conservation officers and urban wildlife biologists, and build necessary partnerships with Health Canada and local governments to address deer over population.

Coun. Michelle Kirby made the motion that asserts the resources, authority and responsibility to manage ungulate populations lies with the province. The preamble also says the combination of favourable habitats, no natural predators and the inability to allow hunting have contributed to expanding populations and exacerbated the problem of human-deer conflict in urban settings.

“This is a burden on our small municipality and we don’t have that expertise,” said Kirby. “We can’t meet the needs of the community. … They’re downloading this responsibility and they need to own it.”

It’s a resolution that has been put forth before by communities such as Kimberley, Kirby found, but this includes an angle of creating partnerships and including Health Canada, which Oak Bay believes could allow for immunocontraception to be considered a viable option.

“I consider it a symbolic motion,” said Coun. Eric Zhelka “I don’t see this will result in any action.  At least we can try.”

The deadline for resolutions to the AVICC is Feb. 23, and as per usual practice Oak Bay’s motion will go out to other councils in search of support.

All members of council plan to attend the AVICC annual general meeting and convention in Courtenay from April 10 to 12.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

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