Sechelt council tried a new approach to address concerns about Conibear, leg hold and snare traps within the District’s boundaries during its Sept. 12 committee of the whole meeting.
There everyone but Coun. Doug Hockley was in favour of using Sechelt as a test case and working with the provincial government to create a comprehensive urban wildlife strategy for B.C. to address the issue.
Sechelt council has said publicly they want to ban the use of animal traps within the District. But currently, trapping is regulated by the province, making a local bylaw unenforceable.
In April council wrote to the provincial minister responsible for environment and wildlife regulation asking for power to enforce a local trap ban.
The request was not approved or responded to by the minister. Instead, Andrew Wilson, director for the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Branch, wrote to say his department would have concerns about a bylaw that “attempts to impact lawful trapping activities that are carried out in accordance with the Wildlife Act and regulations.”
He also said he would be open to a meeting to talk about how to address council’s concerns.
Staff suggested council take the opportunity to work with Wilson and find a solution.
“It’s certainly my opinion that if council enacted a bylaw on its own because this is an area of concurrent jurisdiction under the community charter, there would be no effective way to follow it through. We could not enforce it,” assistant corporate officer Gerry van der Wolf said Wednesday.
“I think even to limit the discussion with the ministry itself is not particularly productive. There are other stakeholders there, and if we enacted a bylaw that was legal but wasn’t enforceable, I think it would create a false sense of security for the public as well.”
With his comments in mind, councillors moved a recommendation to invite Wilson to work with the District and use Sechelt as a model for a comprehensive urban wildlife strategy for B.C. They also moved “that other stakeholders in the trapping issue identified to date be notified of the scheduled meeting.”
Most seemed satisfied with the decision; however, Hockley made it clear that nothing short of a ban on trapping in the District would appease him.
“The District of Sechelt comprises 39 square miles of the 384,764 square miles of British Columbia. Is it too much to ask that we can’t ban trapping of wildlife in our 0.01 per cent in order to make it safe for our children and pets to wander around without us worrying about stepping onto a cruelly maiming trap or a snare of some sort?” Hockley asked.
“We as a council need to make a statement about protecting our residents within our mandate, the District of Sechelt, and therefore I implore you to impose a ban on the trapping of wildlife within the District.”
Although the rest of council agreed a bylaw to that effect was the ultimate goal, the issue of enforceability caused them to stop short.
“I would want to know that whatever we passed had teeth and could be enforced,” Coun. Darnelda Siegers noted.