Ottawa’s Failed Wildlife Strategy

Ottawa’s Failed Wildlife Strategy
Posted on July 6, 2013 | Ontario Wildlife Coalition | Written on July 6, 2013
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There were some amusing moments at the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee meeting on Thursday.  Such as chair, Doug Thompson’s suggestion that Ottawa’s Wildlife Strategy could become a ‘model’ for other communities.

The other communities would have had to set a very low bar if this were the case.

After more than 3 years of deflection and delay and a 200-page report filled with a lot of empty platitudes, it will be ‘business as usual’ for beavers killed at the majority of conflict sites in Ottawa; a construction protocol that was approved in 2000 and has yet to be implemented; a few minor education initiatives such as improvements to the City’s website, a trial run at a quarterly speakers series and a kit for elementary school children. But no real assistance for people experiencing a wildlife conflict which is where the real need lies.

As for process, we heard time and again during the meeting, that this exercise in public consultation had exceeded the standard for all other public participation initiatives undertaken by the City.  If it did, it was only in the length of time it was drawn out.  In fact, several of the community stakeholder groups resigned because the working group had not met in over a year and four months when the initial draft strategy was released. Nor had any of the community stakeholders seen or been involved in its proposals.

We have since learned that a parallel consultation process was occurring during this time between city staff and agency representatives, some of whom had obstructed the process on the working group from the very beginning.

A revised version of the draft strategy was released this April, ten months after the first one, but other than the removal of words like ‘nuisance’ wildlife, the content remains the same.  It was released as an on-line public consultation but no one in urban and suburban communities received any notice of it in their community newspapers or in their councillors’ regular columns.  This was in stark contrast to its promotion in at least one rural newspaper.

So, it should be no surprise that this month-long consultation drew only 24 responses and then most of these people had no general opinion on the strategy.

That wildlife decisions, the vast majority of which involve urban wildlife, have now been handed over to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee makes no sense nor is it mandated within ARAC’s terms of reference.  Although the Mayor continues to state that it does – presumably by royal decree.

The Wildlife Strategy came about in 2010 because the public and wildlife and environmental organizations were highly critical of the reactive and negative way in which the City responded to wildlife.  The public was also frustrated that decisions were being handled by an inter-agency group that included the City’s by-law department, the NCC and the Ministry of Natural Resources – without any transparency or accountability.

Well, folks, it’s back in the same hands. The City of Ottawa’s record in shutting the door on citizen engagement remains intact.

Donna DuBreuil,
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre


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The Ontario Wildlife Coalition was formed to urge the return of a progressive wildlife rehabilitation service in Ontario, to advocate on behalf of wildlife and to seek long-term, humane solutions for human/wildlife... More

Comments

Its very disappointing Donna, I agree.

As I commented on Joanne Chianello's column today, this is the 21st Century in Canada's capital, do you not think we can have a little more progressive and inclusive decision making, especially on issues that directly affect the public?

Its embarrassing what we have to put up with at City Hall. The 2014 municipal election can't come soon enough!

The wildlife and residents of Ottawa deserve better solutions.
Flow devices are a long term solution to beaver conflicts that will fix your culverts permanently. Trapping has to be repeated over and over. My own city has seen our flow device keep a pond low for over 6 years. Now because of our beaver-tended wetlands we regularly see otter, steelhead, woodduck and even mink in our tiny urban stream.

www.martinezbeavers.org
Heidi Perryman
Worth A Dam.

aregularmom

As usual Ottawa politicians are only looking to line their pockets and to heck with everthing else - especially wildlife!
The Citizen should be publishing this but of course we all know that is run by politicians wims too...........

Ann Coffey

Great letter, Donna. Ottawa loves singing its tired old "model for other communities" refrain. Actually, in a way Doug Thomson is spot on because Ottawa is providing other communities with a great model - one not to follow.

I hope you're sending this to the Citizen.

Ann

Sharon Wolfe

Having wildlife under the care of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee chaired by a person that has a history of supporting coyote culls is just wrong. I guess the one positive that has come out of this exercise is highlighting just how sneaky our current city government can be. These politicians continue to take care of their own interests, and not those of the public. Shameful.

K. Forster

Business as usual - exactly. This is not acceptable. After how many months/years of working on this strategy? After all this time, the City should have done its research and should be proposing progressive and innovative humane ways to coexist with wildlife.

City Council should suggest more open and wide Public Consultation on this as this strategy will be guiding us for years to come. They shouldn't accept status quo - business as usual - that's not what the proposal that initiated the Wildlife Strategy was intending.

The public is clearly interested in urban wildlife as previous actions have shown. There are a lot of urbanites that want to enjoy nature in the city. They come out for Urban Wild Tours, go to see Purple Martin banding, post supportive comments about the crows in Alta Vista (yes! there were many supportive comments about them), try to keep the city in check when they evicted Lucky & Lily the beavers with public outcries and vote madly to help the Wild Bird Care Centre win a new website. All these people and more want the opportunity to comment and discuss this strategy.

Please City Council - do the right thing and delay this until we can have a public open house in the fall. Many thanks!

alex hunter

Donna

I can feel your frustration as a pioneer in the field of wildlife conflict prevention.

In the end Ottawa is moving to have the best wildlife policy in North America. As a community Ottawa has done a lot one of the first in Canada to take on using Deer barriers to keep roads safer.

Look around the province of British Columbia collectively have better Wildlife conflict measures in place.

Ottawa largely in part because of folks like you is a leader have faith...