Proponents for a new bylaw that would ban body-gripping traps in the District of Sechelt left the Nov. 28 committee of the whole meeting angry and vowing to up the pressure on the District.
At that public meeting, two delegations were on the agenda: one from Cecilia Ohm-Eriksen on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of the Sunshine Coast, and one from Andrew Wilson, with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Ohm-Eriksen spoke about the need to pass a bylaw prohibiting the use of body-gripping traps, while Wilson was to speak about the urban wildlife management strategy, which was an option Sechelt voted to move forward with in September in lieu of banning traps.
When asked to start his presentation, Wilson was at a loss and didn’t have anything prepared.
“I think I’m more here to understand what the issue is and what you might be looking to me for,” he said, noting a bylaw to ban traps in the District once crossed his desk for comment. “Now I understand that council has decided against following up on that bylaw and is now looking at an urban wildlife strategy that I believe the Fur Institute of Canada may have been talking to you about, and that’s about all I’ve got here.”
Councillors expected a rundown of what the urban wildlife strategy might entail and they were surprised by Wilson’s words.
The mix-up was the final straw for the Concerned Citizens of the Sunshine Coast, who feel council has been dragging its feet on passing a bylaw against trapping — a bylaw they say many locals support.
“This is shown by a petition in 2011 with over 1,500 names collected in a two-week period, and by numerous letters to council and to the local papers,” Ohm-Eriksen said.
Lesley Fox, executive director with the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, who has been working closely with the Concerned Citizens of the Sunshine Coast, said her group is willing to help up the pressure.
“Council is just not getting it and it’s a slap in the face for democracy. They’re not listening to the people and … we’ve done everything we can in terms of participating in that process — the delegations and the phone calls and the letters and the petitions — we’ve done all that. It doesn’t work,” Fox said. “If this means we need to get more aggressive, I’m happy to do that, because I don’t see this issue going away.”
Council has said their lawyers considered a trap ban unenforceable as the jurisdiction over trapping lies with the province; however, a handful of other B.C. municipalities including Gibsons have similar bylaws on the books.
In April 2011 a dog was caught in a leg hold trap in the woods near Mason Road. Until that time most were unaware trapping was going on in the District.
The group Concerned Citizens of the Sunshine Coast was then formed in an effort to stop all trapping on the Coast. Since then the group, along with representatives of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, have continued pushing for a ban.
“We’ve been told that we can put it in place but we can’t enforce it,” Mayor John Henderson reiterated. “So unfortunately it seems we’re back to needing to get the support and involvement of the provincial government. Exactly how we’re going to do that is something that I’ve asked staff to pursue with the various departments in the provincial government.”