Council gets letters on deer, approves Whiteway event during meeting

Invermere council also to look at possibility of new park

The Invermere council appointed two people to the library board, gave its approval to the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club’s Whiteway opening celebration, received letters on the urban deer issue and another letter on changing a vacant lot into a park during its last meeting.

Council, at the Tuesday, December 16th council meeting, voted to approve the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club’s request to hold a Lake Windermere Whiteway Winter Festival on Saturday, January 3rd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is the club’s official celebration of the Whiteway achieving the Guinness world record for longest ice-skating trail in the world earlier this year.

We’re really excited for it and we hope the ice is nice and smooth, and that the club can put its new groomer to good use,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.

Invermere council members resolved to appoint Helen Kipp and Mary Bagan to the Invermere Public Library board of directors as the District of Invermere representatives (the board also has representatives from Area F, Area G, Canal Flats and Invermere council) for two-year terms running from January 2015 to December 2016.

Council received two letters on the urban deer issue at the meeting, one from provincial Minister of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson, indicating the ministry recognizes the scope of the urban deer problem across B.C., and the other, from the Lake Windermere District Rod and Gun Club offering volunteer labour, equipment and expertise to the district to help with any urban deer relocation efforts.

Thomson, in his letter, pointed to an upcoming urban deer workshop for the ministry and local B.C. governments (likely held in Richmond in January), saying he expects the workshop to address the formation of an Urban Deer Task Team that would meet annually.

With regard to the prospect of additional provincial resources, we will consider future opportunities as funding becomes available,” said Thomson in the letter.

It’s not a commitment for funding urban deer issues, but it’s a little more positive than past communications. It seems the province’s attitude that there’s-no-way-we’ll-ever-fund-deer issues may be shifting,” said Taft.

Taft said the local Rod and Gun Club’s offer is genuinely appreciated but it may be hard to take the club up on its offer, since the issue is so complex.

Obviously it’s a great offer, but it’s a challenge because the protocol and rules will be dictated by the province, if it approves any relocation pilot project or study, and a quick-and-easy model of let’s get some people, traps and trucks and move these deer isn’t going to fly. It’s probably going to involve tranquilizing, radio collaring, GPS tracking and other post-relocation monitoring, maybe veterinarian examinations. Unfortunately relocation is not the simplest or the cheapest option,” said Taft.

Invermere council members also received a letter from Invermere resident Arlee Romane suggesting that the lot (owned by the district) containing a vacant house that caught fire several weeks ago should be used as the site of a new park, given its close location to an affordable housing complex and a dearth of parks nearby.

Council members discussed the issue further at a committee of the whole meeting immediately following the council meeting.

In principle it’s a great idea, but we have to find money for it in the budget,” said Taft. “We also realize that we have to wait for what remains of the house to come down before we can really visualize what we can do with the space.”

Council directed staff to look at options and cost involved in making the lot a park and then report back to council.