A local bylaw amendment, to ban commercial deer farms in all but a single zone of the Québec municipality, is expected to pass without argument or opposition at the November 12 session of village council. The goal is to help protect Québec’s native deer population from chronic wasting disease (CWD), after a case of the disease was reported at a commercial deer farm in another municipality, in Québec’s Ottawa River region.
Half a dozen residents attended a public consultation meeting Thursday evening, November 7, on the proposed bylaw change. The main concern expressed was how much environmental protection authority the municipal bylaw would have.
“If someone is going to have a deer farm,” said Robin Andrews, “then there has to be environmental regulations.”
Councillor Ron Moran noted that the provincial government is investigating the CWD situation, including testing for chronic wasting disease at all deer farms operating within the region. So far, more than 900 samples have been collected for testing, with negative results for almost 700 of the tests.
All operating commercial deer farms are also required to meet federal decontamination standards to remain open. The mayor observed that Ontario « learned its lesson” in the past when dealing with commercial and industrial projects which could have future risks.
Councillor Moran noted that Ontario’s current environmental regulations require “a significant deposit” from companies to the province, against any potential decontamination costs for land. He also noted that the upfront deposit means the province is not penalized for the entire cleanup cost, in situations where the company that owned the land declares bankruptcy.
But municipal jurisdiction over the situation right now extends just to restricting where a deer farm can operate, and providing some conditions on the site planning to deal with security and containment.
“Especially about double fencing,” said Councillor Moran. “We will insist on double fencing.”
“We are limited,” added Moran, regarding how strict the amended municipal bylaw can be. “But we are pushing, because we don’t want to get stuck with a (financial) mess.”