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Two quit CRD deer committee

Jul 26 2012

Two members of the Capital Regional District's deer advisory committee have resigned, saying the process is broken beyond repair.

"We do not wish to be associated with an irretrievably flawed process," says a letter from Robin Bassett and Kerri Ward to CRD chairman Geoff Young.

Bassett and Ward said in the letter that they both went into the process with open minds.

"[But] the structure, procedures and operations of the [citizens advisory committee] unfortunately were not amenable to finding solutions in a fair and rational way. Any solutions that are proposed will lack the required credibility," the letter says.

Among concerns are a lack of expert evidence; the methods used by a facilitator, who was appointed by the CRD an effort to get a consensus; an impression that "anecdotal information from the farming group always took precedence and was relied upon to the exclusion of real evidence"; and lack of time.

The 11-member committee was appointed in April to come up with recommendations for dealing with deer in the region.

The topic is highly controversial, with some Victoria residents adamantly opposed to killing deer and others arguing that numbers have to be reduced to stop gardens being gobbled, crops destroyed and people being injured in deer-vehicle collisions. The CRD has received 900 letters and emails on the subject.

Young, who attempted to persuade Bassett and Ward to remain on the committee until its final report is issued next month, said he was disappointed.

"They decided they were not interested in continuing, but they did have some recommendations for us and they will be circulated to the board with the rest of the material," Young said.

"This is an issue on which people have strong views and passions get aroused. It is difficult for committee members, and I don't know if we should have been more prescriptive about how it works."

Recommendations from Bassett and Ward include the CRD working jointly with the province; support for the use of fencing, possibly with the province offering partial compensation to farmers for fencing costs; expanded provincial insurance programs to include vegetable crop losses; and possible changes to hunting rules.

The advisory committee report is expected to go to the CRD planning committee next month. It will then go the board.

However, Young does not expect any quick and easy solutions. He believes options may be different for individual areas and that discussions may be needed with other levels of government.

"It's an issue of considerable complexity," he said. "I may have been overly optimistic about the pace at which things might proceed."

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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