The B.C. Supreme Court ruled last week that the public consultation process was not at issue when the District of Invermere administered a cull of 19 deer in March of 2012. The Invermere Deer Protection Society argued that the town did not do enough to consult the community prior to the cull and so launched the lawsuit.
Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski explained that the city follows the same public consultation process, so the case could have caused changes for communities across B.C.
“We’ve certainly been waiting for the outcome and we’re pleased with the decision of the courts,” Stetski said. “Basically the public consultation process has been set out for all of us in the province of B.C. and we were all following the same approach. So had there been a different decision in Invermere, that would have impacted the public involvement process for all of the communities.”
Stetski said the lawsuit tried to determine if the public process was appropriate, with the court finding that in the past it has been.
“It really doesn’t change anything, because it was looking back, not looking forward,” he said. “Had the results been different, it would have changed the results in the future. So it’s good to see that the process we followed was a good one, but it doesn’t change where we’re at in terms of cull or no cull moving ahead this year.”
Stetski said that had it gone the other way, the city would have been back at the beginning. He hoped that had the court found the process was not appropriate, it would have provided guidance as to how to make it appropriate.
Earlier this month, council followed a recommendation by the Urban Deer Management Advisory Committee to forego a cull this year. However, the results of the Nov. 16 city-wide deer count and public complaints could still prompt the committee to reevaluate the situation and send another recommendation to council.
“If the city did come back to a cull, it would be based on a recommendation from our public advisory committee and the information that we receive from the public in terms of deer incidents,” he said. “It will be interesting to see the numbers of the count coming up in November.
“Council made a decision that there would not be a cull so we would need pretty strong arguments in the other direction and a recommendation from the committee in a different direction before we would bring it back and reconsider it.”
The city has had two culls.
The first was a cull of 25 deer in 2011. The second was one of 30 deer in February 2013.