Monday, August 5, 2013

Oak Bay considers fence to keep deer out of native plant garden

Jeff Bell / Times Colonist
August 3, 2013


The Oak Bay Native Plant Garden is home to more than 80 species, many of which are being damaged by deer, volunteers say.  Photograph by: DARREN STONE, Times Colonist

The latest salvo in Oak Bay’s tussle against hungry deer is a proposal to fence the municipality’s native plant garden on Beach Drive, near the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.
Although only 0.21 hectares, the neighbourhood landmark stands out as a protective home for a variety of plant species. The land was donated to the municipality by Ada Beaven in 1939.
Members of the Friends of the Native Plant Garden who give their time to maintaining the site are concerned about what deer are doing to it, said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.
“Our volunteers who work there have told us that many of the very rare and native species are being damaged to the point of complete destruction.”
The garden contains more than 80 native plant species, such as camas and erythronium, along with Garry oaks and two stone ponds that were part of the plot’s original design.
Special deer fencing seems like the most viable option for keeping the animals away, Jensen said. Current cedar fencing is not a deterrent to them.
A proposal being considered calls for a 2.4-metre-high fence that would cost $7,700.
The fence would be made of black netting to help it blend in with its surroundings.
A public hearing on the fence is planned for September. A date has not been set.
Coun. Tara Ney said adding a deer fence to such an attractive, open space raises issues, but many people see a need for doing something to keep the garden thriving.
“I guess we’re at this juncture where we’re weighing up how we value the esthetics of that beautiful garden, and the need to protect the indigenous plants that are part of the garden.”
Discussion of the native-plant garden follows an early-July vote by Oak Bay council in favour of culling the municipality’s deer population.
Since that vote, it has become one of four municipalities — along with View Royal, Central Saanich and North Saanich — expressing interest in a Capital Regional District pilot project on deer reduction.
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