RDN agrees to pay one-third of Parksville’s goose cull costs

"It's not because they poop on our lawn, " says Coun Sue Powell. "It's because they are destroying other ecosystems and habitats."

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) will contribute $12,000 to the City of Parksville’s geese cull.

In a weighted vote at Tuesday night’s regular RDN meeting, board members voted in favour of Parksville’s request for funding, which represents one-third of the total cost of a $35,000 cull. The RDN also agreed to — if necessary — contribute subsequent funding in 2017 and 2018 to continue culling efforts.

“We are doing a cull,” said Parksville Coun. Sue Powell, sitting in for Mayor Marc Lefebvre. “It’s not because they poop on our lawn. It’s because they are destroying other ecosystems and habitats. I know in our estuary they’ve destroyed so much of it, it’s become a wasteland.”

Powell called the need for a cull a “regional issue” given the geese’s transient nature.

Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek was quick to pledge his support behind the neighbouring city.

“This is a good step in the right direction,” said Westbroek, noting the geese have destroyed Little Qualicum Estuary. “I can’t think of a better way to spend taxpayer dollars than culling geese.”

However, not everyone was on board. Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime voted against contributing the funding to Parksville — but not because of ethical or political issues with a cull. “There was a time when these requests were referred to for discussion, then a lot of things became grant and aid, other things become line items… within our budget,” he said.

“I’m yet to see a project come to the board that wasn’t a good project, (but) it starts to add up… and personally going forward I think there should be more co-ordination of these requests. Occasionally, some things are timely but in other cases they are not so I can’t support this.”

Director Julian Fell, who represents Coombs/Errington, voiced concern about Victoria’s notorious geese cull which destroyed 43 geese last year. The entire Capitol Regional District (CRD) cull cost $31,500 or $725 each goose.

It is unclear at this time how many geese Parksville aims to cull.

But RDN general manager of recreation and parks services Tom Osborne said the RDN is lucky to have Parksville take the lead on this issue.  “From a regional perspective there is great willingness and an appreciation to the City of Parksville to take on this permit,” said Osborne, noting if not Parksville another organization would have to at some point. “As the City of Parksville is taking a lead on staff resources and so forth it is of great benefit to the Regional District of Nanaimo… It’s a favour being brought forward.”

RDN board members voted to support Parksville’s cull efforts.

Meanwhile, they also agreed to write a letter to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change to request legislative amendments to allow the use of culled migratory birds for human or animal consumption with a copy to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities requesting their support for this initiative.