- DEER MANAGEMENT
A wide-ranging discussion about an amendment to our Animal Control Bylaw to increase fines imposed on residents who feed urban deer, followed submission of a staff report recommending a bylaw amendment to our Animal Control Bylaw, to increase the fine from the current $100 to $300. Some Council members wanted greater fine amounts imposed, a greater single amount for a first-time infraction or through a phased approach — for example, $100 for the first infraction and $400 for any subsequent infraction, proposed by Councillor Murdoch, a suggestion I supported. That motion failed. The Council majority later voted to support a phased approach but called for even higher amounts — $300 for the first infraction and $500 for each subsequent infraction.
While I do not support feeding urban deer, recognizing that it is a serious issue for many areas within the CRD, and should be addressed through bylaw enforcement and fines, I voted against this final motion. My reasons included:
- These two amounts strike me as too high and timing seems premature, given that we have not yet fully implemented the CRD Deer Management Strategy that includes a strong public education component.
- I believe that residents should be educated first and given more complete and scientific information about the hazards of feeding urban deer.
- I understand from staff that we really have no hard evidence as to the extent of the deer-feeding problem in Oak Bay because the municipality has no current statistics or a history or record of complaints. How then do we evaluate the success of an increase to the fine system to curb behaviour if we lack baseline data?
- One Councillor pointed out that to enforce the bylaw could also be challenging — is a person who inadvertently leaves fallen apples on the ground or unpicked kale in their garden guilty of feeding deer? For me, these were some of the unanswered questions that led me to support the staff report’s recommendation as reasonable.
- LONG BOARDING ON BARKLEY TERRACE
I voted with Council to prohibit long boarding on Barkley Terrace. This difficult decision came after delegations and meetings involving residents, the Mayor, Oak Bay Police and the youth themselves, culminating in a comprehensive staff report submitted by Oak Bay’s Department of Engineering. In preparing the report, other communities in the region were canvassed as to how they address long boarding and it seems to be a patchwork of regulation.
You may remember that this issue was identified last year by Barkley Terrace residents concerned about long boarding activity on their street. Barkley Terrace is a steep narrow street running up the west side of Gonzales Hill, with at least a 12% grade and a posted speed limit of 20 km. It is also part of the Centennial Trail system, a popular walking and hiking trail.
A majority of residents expressed their ongoing concerns about the potential of a very serious accident should a motor vehicle and a long board collide because of speeding long boarders and lack of visibility, especially near the bottom at the Barkley and King George Terraces’ intersection. One resident argued that drivers and long boarders are both at risk on Barkley Terrace and that it’s just a matter of time until someone is seriously injured or killed. Another resident raised the question of municipal liability in the event that the municipality is warned about the situation but does nothing, preferring to rely on public education and youth outreach as solutions.
Everyone agreed that the youth involved are polite, respectful and well behaved. They are passionate about their sport. Oak Bay police have not had any complaints about long boarding on Barkley Terrace or elsewhere in the municipality. They also admit that there are no easy solutions to addressing the public safety issue. The sport is unregulated and there are no requirements for boarders to wear protective gear.
While many of the long boarders appear to be teenagers, one resident alleged that others are young children whose parents drive them to Barkley, drop them off and drive away leaving them unsupervised.
Although many Council members were sympathetic of the youth and did not want to create a culture that discourages them from outdoor activity (some residents advocated on behalf of the long boarders to continue the activity), the need to address public health and safety issues overshadowed the need for youth to engage in long boarding on Barkley Terrace and other streets on Gonzales Hill.
I suggested that the young people involved be recruited to participate on the municipality’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee and at the Parks and Recreation Commission, where they can be included in future discussion and decisions about safe locations for long boarding and similar outdoor activity.
- CHARGED UP ABOUT CHARGING STATION
Oak Bay’s electric vehicle charging station, situated behind Municipal Hall, will remain free for users for the time being. I voted with Council to support the staff recommendation that called for the continuation of free usage.
- IMPROVEMENT TO CROSSING AT TOD AND MUSGRAVE
I voted with Council to support installation of a new stamped asphalt pedestrian traffic calming design at Musgrave and Tod streets. This will enhance safety and mobility for anyone crossing at this junction.