The Township of Esquimalt may soon allow for front yard fences to double in height.
It’s one option that would help to keep hungry deer out of residents’ yards, Mayor Barb Desjardins said. She and council are also aware that towering fences can bother some neighbours and may reduce a sense of community.
In search of the best way forward, council unanimously voted Monday night to have staff produce a report exploring the various options available.
Current bylaw dictates limits front yard fences to four feet high and backyard ones six feet. Fences need to be at least eight feet high to keep deer out, Desjardins said, and even then some deer can jump those.
During the pandemic, the mayor said, more people have been gardening and more deer have been snacking. It’s a serious problem for residents who pour hours of labour into their fruits and vegetables and depend on them for food.
As a result, many homeowners have turned to creative ways of keeping deer out, building structures that aren’t technically fences, but don’t entirely comply with the bylaw either.
“It’s really turned into the wild west of fencing,” Desjardins said.
Council had hoped to hold off on changing the fencing bylaw until they had evidence the recently approved immunocontraceptive deer study works to reduce the population. But it could be several years until researchers know if the birth control works, so higher fences are on the table, Desjardins said.
Staff is expected to report back with its findings after council’s summer recess, at the end of August or beginning of September.
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