PENTICTON - The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen won’t be able to take advantage of a hastily released interim cost sharing program with the provincial government to pay for deer management projects.
Chief administrative officer Bill Newell says an announcement was made during last year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention about a short term program, but it wasn't introduced until just before Christmas.
“They announced they had found $100,000 to apply to two programs, one involving operations and the other research,” Newell says. “Incorporated municipalities were invited to apply in addition to two regional districts of which we were one."
RDOS staff took the opportunity to the board at last Thursday’s directors meeting, however, the deadline for applications was January 8 — the day after the board meeting.
Newell says the board was concerned they barely had time to discuss the program before the application came due. A number of priorities regarding deer management had to be completed prior to being allowed to apply as well and the regional district clearly wasn’t at a stage where they could make application for this particular program, he says.
"The board had a good discussion over the issue, and in the end decided to have staff write a letter expressing their concern about the process,” Newell says.
Newell thinks there may be an extended program coming with this year’s budget, and hopes the regional district will be eligible to get on board then.
In the December application, Newell noted the only aspect the province is willing to consider at this point is a “trap and bolt” program, which works like a cull.
There is a research program as well that looks at the possibilities of a successful relocation program or some other humane way of getting deer out of urban areas.
“They’re looking at it from a couple of different perspectives, and I think they want to look at it from a longer term, but they also wanted to get going with the money they had,” Newell says.
"The province held a couple of workshops last year just trying to get their own ideas established, and which provincial departments are involved,” Newell says, adding the province has about 10 different departments involved in urban deer management.
“We’re definitely interested in the big picture deer program in the province and within the regional district. Some of our member municipalities like Princeton have already advanced what they’re doing within their corporate boundaries, and obviously, Penticton has already looked at it as well, but from a regional district perspective we’ve been interested in it for some of our high density hamlets like Kaleden and Okanagan Falls."
"We’ve been involved in the process for the last couple of years. The province clearly stipulates they own the deer and they will be in charge of any management program,” Newell says.
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