In his letter to the editor in the May 6 edition of the Oak Bay News, Mr. Brian Jones refers to me as “the only candidate openly supportive of the deer lobby…overwhelmingly defeated at the ballot box when she ran for mayor.” It would be helpful for Mr. Jones to check the facts.
At no time did I support a deer lobby, only an option to re-visit and re-evaluate what I believed was a questionable, costly deer management pilot program through the CRD, one that would be potentially ineffective and divisive. I learned that to tackle the issue required regional co-ordination with Saanich and Victoria.
I pointed out that Oak Bay’s lack of implementation of speed limit reduction on major traffic corridors such as Cadboro Bay Road between Lansdowne and Cedar Hill X roads, and the absence of proper signage consistent with provincial government wildlife signage, were missed steps in the pilot program. I stressed that an absence of reliable scientific data on how many deer reside in Oak Bay and on their migration patterns was also a major gap in the pilot.
I believed then, as I do now, that without such scientific data collection, how could the municipality undertake an informed analysis of outcomes, to determine if the deer population was effectively reduced or managed and that Oak Bay taxpayers could be sure that the program was cost-effective.
Mr. Jones will also recall that I stressed that Oak Bay’s efforts to cull deer in isolation was sufficient cause to question the efficacy and common sense of this option. In the end, I was correct.
Eleven deer were culled last year and immediately following the cull, it was announced on March 10, 2015 by the mayor in the Times Colonist, that this event “wasn’t about fixing a problem with a one-time cull.”
Later, the CRD publicly agreed that to effectively and properly manage urban deer would first require regional co-ordination with neighbouring municipalities on such measures as public education, information-sharing, mitigation strategies and overall cost-sharing.
In the past nearly two and a half years, in addition to dividing and confusing the community, the issue of urban deer continues to cause Oak Bay council to struggle with its philosophy and approach about how best to manage urban deer.
Yes indeed, please remember Coun. Tara Ney, Tom Croft, Michelle Kirby and Eric Zehlka; remember them as decision-makers who deserve recognition for taking a reasonable position on the deer question, as I did in 2014.