Two members resign from deer advisory group

Pair express concerns about process and lack of information

Two members of the Capital Regional District’s deer management advisory group have resigned from their roles.

The News has learned that Robin Bassett and Kerri Ward sent a letter of resignation to the CRD board in early July, after expressing concerns about the process of the citizens advisory group’s (CAG) meetings and the possible direction the board may go.

Bassett and Ward felt that the facilitator was trying too hard to get members of the CAG to reach consensus on management options, according to Geoff Young, chair of the CRD.

They also felt that not enough information, such as data on deer population and technical information, was being provided to committee members, he said.

Having these members resign from the CAG illustrates how difficult and contentious the deer issue is, Young said.

“Basically, what it says to me is that it’s a really tough issue. It raises deeply held views.”

However, Young stressed that he is still confident the CAG will provide useful information to the board.

“We never expected that the committee was going to solve everything for the board, and I don’t expect that will be the case,” he said. “But, I think there will be some useful thoughts and information and considerations coming out of the committee, even though it hasn’t gone as totally smoothly as we might of hoped.”

The board will consider not only the CAG’s report, but technical information, feedback from the general public, including the constant flow of letters and emails the CRD receives, and the concerns of the resigned members.

“It is a complex issue and there are a lot more things to consider,” he said.

Young admitted that perhaps he was “a little bit optimistic” in his thinking that this would be a quick discussion that could be had in one afternoon.

“My feeling is now that it’s probably not going to be a case (where) the board gets the final report and then quickly makes a firm and final decision. I suspect there will be a lot further discussion.”

The CAG has assessed all 11 possible management options and is nearing the end of its regular meetings. Currently, the group is reviewing its discussions and adding any second thoughts before summaries of each method will be posted online, according to Jeff Weightman, project manager.

A report to the CRD’s planning, transportation, and protective services committee is expected in August, with a final report to the CRD board expected in September.

The board’s hope is that there are strategies the now nine-member committee can agree on that would address the deer problem to some degree, Young said.

“Although I would have preferred, needless to say, that the committee as a whole had been able to present a report with all the members present, I have been aware, and I think all board members were aware from the beginning, that this was going to be a difficult issue.”

Neither Bassett nor Ward could be reached for comment.

For more information about the CAG, see crd.bc.ca/deermanagement.

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