BREAKING: 3L development vote today

BREAKING: 3L development vote today

BREAKING: 3L development vote today

Stotan Falls developer tries end run around Regional Growth Strategy

PHOTO: 3L Developments convinced the Comox Valley Record last fall to publish the developers’ opinion article on its front page. It was a breach of journalistic integrity for which the newspaper’s publisher later apologized.

 

By GRANT GORDON

At 4 p.m. today, July 10, the Comox Valley Regional District Committee of the Whole will hear a presentation by 3L Developments to try get their RiverWood proposal classified as a minor amendment to the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). Regional district staff have recommended that the 3L proposal be a standard (major) amendment.

If two-thirds of the board’s members vote to override the staff recommendation then their proposal moves ahead to third reading where this inappropriate development could actually come to pass quite easily due to the overwhelming presence of developers’ influence on CVRD board members.

So in case you missed it, a minor amendment classification would allow changing the zoning from ‘two houses per 20 hectares (50 Acres)” over some 400 acres, or 16 total houses, to 740 houses over the same area.

If this proposed amendment doesn’t pass, then 3L’s Riverwood proposal continues ahead as a Standard (Major) Amendment requiring the approval of the all the parties that were part and parcel to approving the RGS Document in the first place: the Provincial Government, the surrounding regional districts, the CV Regional District, local Municipalities and seven First Nations.

Section 5.2 of the Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw # 120, 2010 clearly states that this kind of development in rural areas is well above and beyond all the principals that would constitute a minor amendment: (Pages 108 – 110)

The location is outside of the municipal areas where 90 percent of all growth is to occur and even further out than the reserved ‘municipal expansion’ areas withheld for further growth.

The location is beyond areas with municipal services where water and sewer can be expeditiously supplied.

The location sits astride wildlife corridors where large and small ungulates and carnivores can physically get passed the fenced Inland Island Highway on their way to their prime feeding areas within the Puntledge and Browns rivers and on the dairy farms east of the highway. That’s bears on fish and cougars on deer respectively.

The RGS clearly states that a minor amendment: ” … is not to be of regional significance in terms of scale, impacts or precedence; Contributes to achieving the goals and objectives set out in Part 3; (Regional Policies); and, Contributes to achieving the general principals contained in the growth management strategy Part 4. (Managing Growth) … ”

In my opinion . . . Larry Jangula is for it. Bruce Joliffe (Area A) is against it. Manos Theos is for it. Rod Nichol (Area B) is against it. Erik Eriksson is for it. Curtis Scoville (Area C alt) against. Ken Grant is for it. Gwyn Sproule, Barbara Price and Bob Wells are unknown.

If you think that a 740-house development in an area that has already been excluded from the Urban Sacrifice Zones (Municipal Expansion Areas), with 1,480 vehicles, 740 plus cats and 740 plus dogs and multiple children situated on major game paths is not going to be a major change in the way things have been worked out in the Regional Growth Strategy, then your vision of the Comox Valley is quite a bit different that mine. It is also quite a bit different than the Regional Growth Strategy as interpreted by the CVRD’s planning and legal departments.

Please contact your local representatives to let them know how you feel about this attempt to change the intended Regional Growth Strategy by allowing this proposal to be downgraded to minor amendment status against the wishes of the general public that put so much into developing the RGS and the CVRD staff that are tasked with implementing and overseeing it.

There will be a normal Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at the Comox Valley Regional District Board room.

Then the COW will reconvene a second meeting to discuss this 3L proposal, which goes against the staff recommendation.

Grant Gordon submitted this for publication as part of Decafnation’s Civic Journalism Project.

 

City bridge proposal would harm airpark, Kus-kus-sum

City bridge proposal would harm airpark, Kus-kus-sum

PHOTO: 21st Street is in the middle at the bottom, with the car lot on the right side. It crosses Cliffe Avenue and dead-ends at the Courtenay Airpark boundary. Dave Bazett photo

A proposed new bridge would kill the Courtenay Airpark, walkway, Hollyhock Marsh, undermine Kus-kus-sum and add another signal light on Comox Road. So why is the City of Courtenay promoting it? Even mayoralty candidates aren’t sure

 

The City of Courtenay has floated a proposal to build a third crossing of the Courtenay River at 21st Street to alleviate traffic congestion at the 17th Street and Fifth Street bridges.

The proposal, which is part of a study for the city’s required update of their 2014 Master Transportation Plan, would wipe out the Courtenay Airpark, part of the Airpark walkway, destroy the estuary’s last remaining intact ecosystem at Hollyhock Marsh, undermine the Kus-kus-sum rehabilitation project and create another major signaled intersection on Comox Road at a point that regularly floods during winter storms.

Not to mention that Hollyhock Marsh is protected crown land and is an area under claim by the K’omoks First Nation.

It’s an idea that has left many people shaking their heads.

“I thought it was an April Fools Day joke,” said Dave Bazett, a land surveyor whose office is in the proposal’s path and who owns two aircraft hangared at the airpark.

Project Watershed Technical Director Dan Bowen said the study appears to have been done by someone who doesn’t know anything about the area.

“And, who employs someone to pursue an idea that’s not feasible?” he said.

Bazett pointed his finger at the city, which defined the scope of the transportation plan update for the consultant, including a bridge south of 17th Street and the idea that the airpark and the marsh were expendable.

Even the three announced candidates for Courtenay mayor tried to distance themselves from the proposal.

David Frisch emphasized that the proposal is not a plan, just some consultant’s idea. He said there are more environmentally friendly options.

Bob Wells said he didn’t know how a third crossing got in the plan. He thinks its an option the consultant picked up from previous studies, before Kus-kus-sum became a community project.

Erik Eriksson wondered how many millions of dollars per minute of wait time at the existing bridge intersections the public is willing to pay for. A new crossing would cost tens of millions of dollars.

“So we’re not going to see another bridge in my lifetime,” Eriksson said.

Background

The city has undertaken a required four-year update to its 2014 Master Transportation Plan. It held an open house in March and another in mid-June, and is conducting an online survey.

The study and community feedback will be presented to the Courtenay City Council over the summer. Council members will decide what parts of the study get costed out and eventually make it into the 2018 Master Transportation Plan.

Take the survey here

FURTHER READING: See the study’s open house display boards; The city’s Master Transportation Plan webpage

The 2014 plan also examined options for a third crossing. It rejected crossings at 19th and 26th streets, and suggested Eighth or 11th streets for new bridges. The city eventually costed out an 11th Street bridge at around $35 million, and later dropped the idea.

But traffic congestion at the 17th Street east intersection and at the Fifth Street east intersection has worsened as the Comox Valley has grown. But is it unbearable?

Wait times at the bridges may pale now in comparison to the Langford Crawl in Victoria or to numerous choke points in Vancouver, but without an acceptable long-term solution, motorists’ frustration will magnify.

Why 21st Street won’t fly

Bowen, a former BC Ministry of Highways employee in the Comox Valley, said the third crossing proposal and other proposals in the study to build new roads across the Courtenay Flats farmland “fly in the face” of everything Project Watershed has been trying to achieve.

“We’ve been working on projects over the past 20 years to preserve and protect the remaining flora and fauna habitat along the river and K’omoks estuary,” he said. “This proposal has no regard for the estuary. It’s single-minded and not well-informed.”

Local citizens fought Crown Zellerbach from filling in the marsh back in the 1960s and battled them and the provincial government to save the pristine ecosystem, which is unique in the Comox Valley.

Hollyhock Marsh is the model for Kus-kus-sum, a project to restore of the old Fields sawmill site, and the marsh is it’s connection back to the estuary.

“It’s a non-starter for us (Project Watershed,” Bowen said. “And I would expect for K’omoks First Nation, too.”

Decafnation was unable to reach K’omoks Chief Nicole Rempel for this story.

Bazett, a pilot who uses aircrafts in his land surveying business, considers the 21st Street crossing a “purposeful attack” on the Courtenay Airpark.

Bazett says the city has tried to shut down the airport before and neither the mayor or council members have been supportive.

“This crossing was concocted as an excuse to eliminate the airpark,” he said. “The study didn’t even consider air transportation.”

He doesn’t think the city realizes the economic impact and importance of the airport. It brings pilots and passengers to town and the RCMP and MediVac helicopters use the facility regularly.

“It’s a precious jewel,” he said. “There are few private airparks in the province for both float and land aircraft, and within walking distance of town.”

Better options

Bowen said his experience working with the highways ministry taught him there are better options to improve traffic flow.

The primary problem is that there are two northbound lanes of traffic approaching the bridge from the south on Cliffe Avenue and two lanes on the bridge. But whether you turn north or south, you have to merge down to one lane.

It’s the same approaching the bridge from the north on the Island Highway bypass, which is two lanes at Superstore, but merges down to one lane at the bridge.

Bowen believes there should be four lanes of traffic approaching the 17th Street bridge, across the bridge and then all the way to the Shell gas station at the old Island Highway and also part way toward Comox.

The long-term solution, he said, is to twin the 17th Street bridge. The highways ministry purchased extra land on the north side of 17th Street east of Cliffe Avenue to anticipate a widened bridge. That land looks like a park with cherry trees.

The ministry also designed the bypass for four lanes, which is why the shoulders are extra wide through the S-turns.

Bowen agree with Erik Eriksson about also widening the Fifth Street bridge and making it four lanes from the Shell gas station at the bottom of Mission Hill all the way to Cliffe Avenue.

An election issue?

City Councillor Eriksson says the study is flawed in another important way: it only considers Courtenay boundaries.

“Any traffic study has to be regional,” he said. “And Comox people should help pay for any traffic improvements.”

Councillor Frisch wouldn’t rule out a third crossing forever, but he said “city taxpayers are not going to pay $20 million to $30 million for a new bridge.”

The question for him is where to spend the city’s limited funds.

“If we spend it on a bridge now, what’s the lost opportunity to support walkability, cycling, transit and other things,” he said.

City Council candidate Melanie McCollum said the cost of building a bridge across a estuary seems potentially prohibitively high.

“It’s very sensitive habitat. It would also mean building into sediment, which liquefies in an earthquake,” she said. “Of course this is not my area of specialty, but from what I know, building a bridge in an earthquake zone on sediment will incur some very expensive geoengineering.”

McCollum would also like to know if the plan for this bridge had taken into account sea level rise expected in the next 50 to 70 years.

Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula did not respond to our questions.

 

“Unbelievable accusations” move water bottling to public hearing

“Unbelievable accusations” move water bottling to public hearing

The CVRD moved a rezoning application for a water bottling plant in Merville to a public hearing later this summer after the applicant complained the process has not been fair or transparent

 

UPDATE, 10:30 am June 18 — In a surprise move, the Comox Valley Regional District Electoral Areas Services Committee did not take a vote this morning (June 18) to reject a rezoning application for a water bottling plant in Merville.

Instead, following complaints by the applicant, Christopher Scott Mackenzie, that his rezoning application process has been unfair and not transparent, Area C Director Edwin Grieve made a motion to take the application to a public hearing. No date has been set.

The CVRD staff recommended the committee deny Mackenzie’s rezoning application — see original story below.

At this morning’s meeting, Mackenzie said the staff report contained “a lot of derogatory comments that lack any real substance.” He called them a “barrage of unbelievable accusations” that have “spiraled out of control.”

Mackenzie submitted documents to the CVRD that he says show fears about depleting the aquifer from which he would draw up to 10,000 litres per day are not true.

“It’s not going to happen,” he said. And he briefly noted claims in his submitted documents that the aquifer is actually a catch basin that recharges every year.

He said water levels in the aquifer have increased by 3.2 cm in the last 14 years — the equivalent of more than 300 million litres of water — despite  92 years of water extraction by neighboring property owners.

Before being cut off by the committee chair, Mackenzie alleged that neighboring farms and homesteads had multiple wells into the aquifer, including some that are “free-flowing artesian wells.”

Mackenzie said he doesn’t like how his “simple application” has been represented and that he’s gotten no support from Director Grieve, the Area C representative. 

In making his motion for a public hearing Grieve said, “The applicant is concerned about the protection of his process. I don’t want him to think he isn’t getting a fair shake.”

The public hearing is likely to be held sometime this summer.


The original story ….

The Comox Valley Regional District staff has recommended denying a rezoning application for a Merville area property that would permit a water bottling operation.

But the fight to stop the extraction of up to 10,000 litres of groundwater per day is not over.

The Electoral Services Commission is expected to rely on the staff report at its meeting this morning (June 18) and reject the rezoning application. But that only means the applicants cannot operate a water bottling facility on the Sackville road property.

The water license issued to Christopher Scott Mackenzie and Regula Heynck by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) remains valid.

They can still extract the water and, with an amendment to his license, can sell it by some method other than a bottling facility on the property.

If the couple attempts to truck water off the property to sell and deliver, the case could end up in court over whether “trucking” falls under the CVRD’s rezoning authority.

FURTHER READING: Ministry stalls FOI request; Farmers urge CVRD to reject Merville water bottling operation; Water Bottling project raises aquifer concerns

So the fight to protect the aquifer for nearby farmers has, for now, shifted to the Environmental Appeal Board and a citizens petition.

Bruce Gibbons, who owns and lives on ALR land about 300 metres from the Sackville Road site, has filed an appeal under the Water Sustainability Act (WSA).

Gibbons expects a decision any day on whether he has the right to appeal, meaning whether the merits of his appeal meet the criteria of the WSA. If the board rules in his favor, then he can makes arguments in front of the board for withdrawing or altering Mackenzie’s and Heynck’s water licence.

The Merville Water Guardians, a group of neighboring landowners formed to fight the water bottling operation, is circulating a petition for the BC government to stop approving groundwater licenses for bottling and commercial sales.

“The petition focuses on groundwater,” Gibbons told Decafnation. “With fresh water licences, you can see the effect — a stream goes dry. But with groundwater, you can’t see the impact on an aquifer.”

“The people … must demand … immediate action to stop approving groundwater aquifer licences for bottling and commercial sale to ensure we all have access to good, clean water for our personal needs, to grow our backyard gardens and to supply the farms that grow our food,” the petition reads.

The CVRD staff report echoes that sentiment.

“The proposed land use is incompatible with the surrounding area, and once such land use is permitted through zoning, the CVRD is potentially enabling the use of this property for water bottling at a much greater scale in the future,” the report reads.

K’omoks First Nation

The CVRD reached out to numerous stakeholders and other regulatory agencies for feedback on the rezoning proposal, including the K’omoks First Nation.

In a strong letter to the CVRD, Chief Nicole Rempel noted that KFN had originally opposed the application back in 2017 when the ministry considered the water license.

“I wish to advise you that in addition to the matters that we have raised in our various communications with the province, we are concerned that the actual license has been issued unlawfully,” Rempel wrote. “It is obvious to us that the consultation with K’omoks on this matter has not been meaningful and our substantive concerns have not been addressed.”

FURTHER READING: Read the 206-page staff report, which includes the feedback from K’omoks First Nation and agencies, as well as the public feedback.

 

Ministry stalls FOI request on Merville water bottling

Ministry stalls FOI request on Merville water bottling

IMAGE: Courtesy of Inhabitat

The B.C. government has stalled a Comox Valley citizen’s Freedom of Information request for a technical study and other information regarding the approval of a water extraction licence in the Merville area

 

Did the provincial government do an in-depth technical study before issuing a licence for a Merville couple to extract 10,000 litres per day for a water bottling operation?

Or, did they approve the licence without doing a sufficient examination of the aquifer from which the water would be drawn and the number of farmers who depend on that water to grow local produce?

And, is it possible that British Columbia has designed its open government regulations to allow ministries to effectively thwart citizen’s requests for information?

Those questions are being asked this week because the Ministry of Forests, Land, Natural Resources, Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD), which granted the Merville groundwater licence, has stalled a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for more than a month.

Merville area farmer Arzeena Hamir, owner of Merville Organics, submitted an FOI request in March regarding the recent decision to grant a groundwater license in Merville (File – 20004026, Water License – 500169) for a water extraction and bottling operation.

FURTHER READING: Water bottling project raises aquifer concerns; Farmers: reject Merville water bottling operation

Hamir wanted to know, “How Ministry staff determined that a public consultation did not need to occur; How Ministry staff determined that the aquifer did not need to be studied; The Ministry staff response to the Komox First Nations referral to the application. (Date Range for Record Search: From 07/01/2016 To 12/31/2017).”

More than a month later, Hamir still hasn’t any idea when the ministry will send her the requested information.

On April 26, she received an email from Andrew Bonneau, a senior FOI analyst in the Ministry of Citizen’s Services, saying that she’s not much closer to getting the information.

“The ministry is currently in the process of confirming that there will no longer be any fees for your request based on the new wording,” Bonneau wrote. “I am anticipating on receiving a response from them shortly and once confirmed, they will begin gathering the records and I will be able to provide you with a new due date for your request.

“Depending on the total number of records that are received and/or whether or not any consultations will be required with other public bodies, there may be a need to extend the due date of your request, however, I will inform you if that will be necessary at that time,” he wrote.

In other words, the ministry has no intention of fulfilling Hamir’s request on a timely basis, and it could be another month or two before she gets any of the information.

That’s not acceptable.

Hamir has asked Comox Valley MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard to look into the issue.

“This is insane. It’s taken FLNRORD more than three weeks to tell the FOI office how long it’s now going to take them to produce just one report,” she said. “Then they have another 30 days to provide that report.”

Several Merville area farmers who are concerned about a loss of water for crop irrigation have questioned whether the ministry did a sufficient study of the demands on the aquifer in question before issuing the extraction licence.

Christopher Scott MacKenzie and his wife, Regula Heynck, applied for a licence to extract 10,000 litres per day or 3.65 million litres per year. The Comox Valley Regional District and the K’omoks First Nation opposed the licence application, but the ministry approved it anyway.

There are environmentally sensitive areas surrounding the property, including many farms and Agricultural Land Reserve areas that rely on groundwater.

Area C Direct Edwin Grieve warned that aquifers eventually get pumped down and he wondered what effect that would have on the water supply for nearby farms. He noted that climate changes have caused Portuguese Creek to dry up in the summer.

The CVRD must approve a rezoning application to permit “water and beverage bottling” as a principal use on the property. CVRD staff are gathering information and will report back to the board of directors in May or June.

The Area C Advisory Planning Commission discussed the rezoning issue at its May 2, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the CVRD board room. There was no public input at this meeting. Full report to follow.

Meanwhile, Hamir wants the information she requested from the ministry quickly so she and other Merville area farmers can review the data on which the water extraction licence was approved.

Hamir said given the public controversy the water licence has created, “it’s hard to believe this report and the other information I requested aren’t readily available on somebody’s desk.”

 

Farmers: reject Merville water bottling operation

Farmers: reject Merville water bottling operation

PHOTO: Merville area residents and others attend a public forum last week about the water bottling proposal

The Mid-Island Farmer’s Institute asks the CVRD to decline a rezoning application and to urge the B.C. government to rescind a water licence for a bottling operation in the Merville area

 

The Mid-Island Farmers Institute has asked the Comox Valley Regional District board to reject a water bottling facility on Sackville Road in Merville.

The farmers also want the regional district to ask the Ministry of Forestry, Land, Natural Resources, Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) to rescind the water licence granted to the Sackville Road property owners, Christopher MacKenzie and Regula Heynck.

The regional district didn’t issue the water licence and has no authority to rescind it. But the CVRD can deny a rezoning application that is necessary to allow water bottling as a principal use on the property.

The provincial agency approved the controversial groundwater licence for a water extraction and bottling operation on a two hectare property in the Merville area despite strong objections from the CVRD and the K’omoks First Nation.

“We believe that this licence was issued without a thorough understanding of the aquifer and the impact that water extraction would have on neighbouring farms and home sites,” board members of the farmers organization wrote in a letter to the regional district board of directors.

“The rezoning application is not in line with the CVRD’s own Official Community Plan and will negatively impact neighbours and road infrastructure,” they said. “The fact that the licence was granted despite objections from the CVRD , objections from the K’omoks First Nation, and the lack of any public consultation brings serious doubt to the legitimacy of such a decision and the operation must not be allowed to go forward.”

FURTHER READING: Water bottling project raises aquifer concerns

MacKenzie told a CVRD committee last month that he originally drilled a well for domestic purposes. But after his wife, Regula Heynck, insisted on testing and discovering the water had high pH levels (alkaline), the couple envisioned a viable family business.

MacKenzie claimed the alkaline water has health benefits and is “something the community needs … it’s really unique”

But farmers in the Merville area believe the bottling facility would draw too much water from the aquifer and affect their crop production. The licence allows MacKenzie/Heynck to extract 10,000 litres per day or 3.65 million litres per year.

The Mid-Island Farmer’s Institute wants the Ministry of FLNRORD to rescind the licence and “declare a moratorium on the issuance of water bottling licences on BC’s aquifers until a full review is conducted on the current and future demand for this water from BC’s farmers.”

The farmers also want the CVRD to “apply for a Water Reservation over the aquifer to ensure that the water is only used for Comox Valley community needs,” which could only be lifted if “the CVRD’s Agriculture Watershed Public Advisory Committee has determined that there is sufficient water for current and future needs of the CVRD community.”

The next CVRD board meeting is Tuesday, April 24. But the matter probably won’t be addressed again until the Electoral Services Committee, which makes recommendations to the board on rural rezoning applications, meets on May 14.

 

Managing urban deer is a local problem, not a provincial one

Managing urban deer is a local problem, not a provincial one

Provincial ministry confirms: province has no legal responsibility for managing urban deer. Comox Valley elected officials ignore problem while Oak Bay and Haida Gwaii take action

 

[dropcap}Q[/dropcap]uestion: What do the City of Oak Bay and the islands of Haida Gwaii NOT have in common with the Comox Valley?

Answer: They have recognized the problems caused by an excessive quantity of deer and have taken actions to reduce their deer populations.

The Comox Valley has done nothing.

Meanwhile, the federal government will spend $5.7 million over the next three years on a program that will eradicate deer from six islands in Haida Gwaii, and
Oak Bay will spend $40,000 on an experimental program to put some of its urban deer on birth control.

But Comox Valley governments have allowed their urban deer populations to expand, partly because elected officials cling to the erroneous notion that managing the animals is a provincial responsibility.

A Comox Valley Regional District representative has told Decafnation that deer are a provincial problem, and Comox Mayor Paul Ives repeated this misinformation on Facebook recently.

So Decafnation contacted the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Resource Operations and Rural Development. Here’s what they said:

“According to section 2 (1) and 2 (5) of the Wildlife Act, all wildlife is owned by the government, but no right of action or compensation exists against the province for death, personal injury or property damage,” a ministry representative wrote via email.

“So, while the province owns the deer, it has no legal responsibility for managing urban deer populations toward objectives established by local governments.”

But the province encourages local governments to develop detailed deer management plans, and it partners with local governments to facilitate and develop socially acceptable urban deer management solutions.

FURTHER READING: Ottawa spends $5.7 to eradicate deer in Haida Gwii; Oak Bay to issue deer contraceptives

If any Comox Valley municipality developed a deer management strategy the province would provide technical advice, regulatory authority, necessary permits, specialized equipment and other management tools.

And, in 2016, B.C. launched an urban deer management program, which provides $100,000 each year to help fund community-based urban deer management projects.

The funding follows up on the province’s pledge – made at the 2015 Union of BC Municipalities annual convention – to set aside annual funding for urban deer mitigation. The province is helping to fund Oak Bay’s program.

That makes it clear that local governments must initiate strategies to manage its deer populations, and the province will help with resources and funding.

So why are Comox Valley governments ignoring this problem?

Gardeners lose thousands of dollars worth of plants to the voraciously hungry deers, and spend thousands more on fencing and other methods to deter them. Farmers have lost crops. Motorists have collided with deer.

Deer attract dangerous animals. Deer make up about 95 percent of a cougar’s diet, and are lured into the urban area by the easy prey of unwary deer. The area conservation officer reports frequent cougar sightings in the Valley.

Letting the deer population go unchecked raises the risk of spreading Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. While reported cases of Lyme disease are not as prevalent here as in the Lower Mainland and other areas, a high density of deer means more ticks and a greater risk.

What Oak Bay is doing

The city recently put radio collars on 20 does to track their movements and better understand the deer population. The next step is to administer an immunocontraceptive vaccine, Zonastat-D, either by hand or via a darting rifle.

While the current version of the drug remains effective for up to 22 months, scientists are working on a vaccine that would work for up to seven years.

What’s going on in Haida Gwaii

Deer were introduced to the Haida Gwaii archipelago in 1880 by the B.C. Game Commission. They have since spread to all of the region’s 200 islands.

“The deer don’t have any predators so there’s no real control for their hyper abundance and they’re beginning to damage the ecosystem in an almost irreparable way,” a Parks Canada resource management technical told CBC news.

Professional sharpshooters have been hired to kill the deer and train young islanders to assist in the eradication.

The deer meat will be distributed for hot lunch programs throughout Haida Gwaii.

Who to call

If individual deer are an immediate threat to human safety, the Conservation Officer Service will respond. These instances should be reported to the RAPP line (Report All Poachers and Polluters) 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.

To encourage local governments to develop deer management programs, call Comox Town Hall (339-2202) , Courtenay City Hall (334-4441) or the Comox Valley Regional District (334-6000).