A deer pokes through the gardens at Beacon Hill Park. The Royal BC Museum. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

A deer pokes through the gardens at Beacon Hill Park. The Royal BC Museum. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Esquimalt mayor repeats call for regional approach to urban deer management

Province waiting on Oak Bay results, Desjardins says cost of duplicating process ‘considerable’

With deer-human conflicts on the rise, at least anecdotally, around Greater Victoria, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins reiterated a request for a regional deer management strategy.

Only Oak Bay has received provincial funding to help address its urban deer issue. With the Township of Esquimalt still trying to gain provincial support for its own deer management study, which would enhance work being done in Oak Bay, the mayor restated her desire for local municipalities to work together as a cost-saving measure.

RELATED STORY: Oak Bay ups deer management budget to $96,100 for 2020

“Deer know no boundaries as we’ve found out; urban deer are increasing,” Desjardins said during a Nov. 18 meeting of the Capital Regional District’s planning, transportation and protective services committee. “The cost to each municipality to duplicate the process over and over, particularly for the core municipalities, is considerable.”

This piecemeal approach does not get to the root of the problem, she added.

“Victoria has deer, Saanich has deer as well. A regional or subregional strategy may be better suited to dealing with this significant and growing concern.”

In 2019, Esquimalt, Saanich, Victoria, North Saanich, Sidney, View Royal, Oak Bay and Colwood requested a meeting with the minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Developments to discuss a regional approach. The province has stated it is waiting for results from Oak Bay’s latest work before determining whether to expand the program.

RELATED STORY: Greater Victoria municipalities hope for region-wide effort to control deer population

At the Nov. 18 meeting, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said his residents are reporting increased interactions with deer. The Saanich police chief even reported encountered deer coming toward his vehicle from both sides of the road.

Reducing physical conflicts is just one element of deer management, Haynes said, pointing to the potential spread of Lyme disease and other issues. “The way to address this is at the sub-regional or regional basis.”

Saanich Coun. Rebecca Mersereau, later elected vice-chair of the CRD board, said she felt conflicted about pursuing a regional strategy due to the amount of resources it could eat up, but supported further discussion, given the issue is one affecting multiple jurisdictions.

The topic was forwarded for discussion at the January 2021 committee meeting.


 

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