Friday, September 6, 2013

Urban deer committee implodes after members resign

By Steve Hubrecht
The Invermere Urban Deer Advisory Committee is suddenly a lot smaller, after three of the group's four members recently resigned. Committee chair Stan Markham and committee members Brad Malfair and James Weir stepped down, with at least two of them saying they didn't feel like the committee was really doing that much.
"When I volunteer, I have to enjoy it and feel like I'm making a contribution," said Mr. Markham. Mr Weir could not be reached for comment, but Mr. Malfair gave several reasons for resigning. "I am disappointed with the inaction and lack of communication and direction from council over the past year (and) the fact that the district advertised for six months for a fifth member of the deer committee to volunteer from the apparent majority of citizens wanting something done about the deer and nobody stepped up," he said.
"It seems the people like to complain but are not willing to do anything about it," added Mr. Malfair. Part of the terms of reference in accepting a position on the deer committee was agreeing not to speak with media, he said, but now that he has quit, he said he's now able to address the issues as an individual citizen.
"There has been too much rhetoric, half truths, and misinformation put out by illinformed individuals and groups that has not been adequately addressed or challenged," he said. Invermere mayor Gerry Taft said he agreed with Mr. Malfair that many people are quick to complain about issuses but then do not get involved.
"With a pending lawsuit against the district (by the Invermere Deer Protection Society) there's not much council can do (on the deer issue) right now," said Mr. Taft, adding that the deer committee has done some great work with the deer counts.
The district is hoping to add an opinion poll question about a deer cull to the referendum on the new community centre later this fall, to find out whether or not the public supports the deer cull as an option for managing the urban deer population.
"Some of the members of the committee didn't agree that this was the right course of action," said Mr. Taft. "The problem with any advisory committee is that it is advisory."
"We really appreciate the time and effort people put in in volunteering for advisory committees. But I can understand that it's hard for members of an advisory committee when their recommendations are not accepted or followed," he said. Going forward council will need to look at if it makes sense to continue having an urban deer advisory committee, said Mr. Taft.
"We need to wrap our heads around whether or not there's even enough for a committee to do." he said.
In the meantime the district has no plans to advertise for volunteers to replace the three resigned deer committee members, said Mr. Taft

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