When Penticton councillors head for the UBCM convention this weekend, deer is going to be one of the top things on their to do list.
Three ministerial meetings have already been scheduled for the Penticton delegation, including one with Minister of Environment Terry Lake to discuss the urban deer management issue.
Responding to complaints from residents about a burgeoning population of deer spreading farther into the city, Penticton began considering a deer cull last year, during a previous council.
Three communities — Kimberley, Cranbrook and Invermere — held culls earlier this year, but Penticton held off on the contentious issue, preferring to gather data through deer counts before pursuing a cull.
“We are in the process of setting up our fall deer count. That is coming up in the next few weeks,” said Anthony Haddad, director of development services. “Discussions with the minister are obviously an important step in dealing with this matter, potentially as a joint approach with other cities that are in the same position as Penticton.
“But again, council needs to be informed, through the count process, prior to making their decision. So we will be reporting out when the fall deer count is completed.”
Kimberley, Grand Forks, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and Invermere will be joining with Penticton, Haddad said, in a joint approach to the ministry, discussing issues around urban deer management. Invermere, he continued, is of special concern to communities considering a deer cull.
Invermere has been in legal battles since trying to cull 100 deer in February. A temporary court injunction slowed the start of the cull, which, in the end, only included 19 deer.
Now, a civil suit filed by the Invermere Deer Protection Organization against the District of Invermere is slowly wending its way through the courts.
The suit is seeking to overturn the cull bylaws and gain financial compensation for 14 people named in the suit claiming stress, loss of appetite and sleep and emotional distress due to the cull.
“We are keeping an eye, like all communities that are dealing with this issue are, on the Invermere court case. There has been a huge amount of resources spent on that issue. I believe around November or December that is going to court,” said Haddad.
Along with meeting with the minister of environment, Penticton’s UBCM delegation will be meeting with the minister of transportation to propose a South Okanagan cycling precinct and the minister of advanced education regarding expanding education possibilities in Penticton. Ashton also plans to meet with Interior Health to support expansion of facilities at Penticton Regional Hospital.