An animal trap found in the Linley Valley in 2013. (Photo submitted)

Seven years later, Nanaimo animal trapping bylaw still isn’t approved

Animal trapping bylaw requires provincial approval before it can be adopted

An animal trapping ban bylaw passed by Nanaimo city council nearly seven years ago is still waiting for the B.C. government to give the OK.

Back in 2013, Nanaimo city councillors passed a bylaw banning the use of animal traps within the municipality, after six body-gripping devices were found in Linley Valley. The move came as other municipalities such as the City of Surrey, District of Sechelt and City of Vernon passed similar trapping bylaws.

Unlike many other municipal bylaws, trapping bylaws – including Nanaimo’s – require provincial approval before they can be officially adopted and enforced.

But according to a bylaw status update posted by the city this month, that trapping ban is still waiting for provincial approval, despite being approved by council in November 2013.

A spokesperson with the ministry of forests told the News Bulletin in an e-mail that the government isn’t considering approving Nanaimo’s trapping ban bylaw anytime soon.

“The province is not currently considering approving any municipal bylaws on trapping wildlife, including the City of Nanaimo’s proposed 2013 bylaw,” said Dawn Makarowski, ministry spokesperson, in an e-mailed statement to the News Bulletin.

The statement was in response to a series of questions by the News Bulletin regarding the province’s position on animal trapping and whether the ministry would consider approving Nanaimo’s bylaw.

“The province supports trapping in areas and seasons in which trapping is safe and sustainable. Trapping serves many purposes, including wildlife management for public health and safety reasons. For example, beavers can cause flooding that threatens road safety and property damage,” said Makarowski.

While the province supports some trapping, it is considering requiring signs to be erected to inform people of nearby traps, according to the ministry’s statement.

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Dale Lindsay, the city’s general manager of development services, said the trapping bylaw falls under what is known as the “sphere of concurrent” authority.

“Some bylaws you can pass without provincial approval but some require their approval, this being one of them,” he said. “When council of the day adopted the bylaw, staff were aware that it would require provincial approval.”

Lindsay said there isn’t much staff can do but wait for the province to make a decision. He said councillors could decide to rescind the bylaw instead of waiting around for provincial approval but that hasn’t happened yet and there haven’t been discussions around that idea.

In the years following Nanaimo’s decision to pass a trapping bylaw, there have been a handful of efforts by municipalities to ban the practice entirely, even as the provincial government repeatedly stated it was reviewing its own regulations around animal trapping. The Union of B.C. Municipalities, in 2013, endorsed a motion calling the provincial government to ban the use of trap lines and implement legislation that prevents domestic animals from being injured in body-gripping devices. Then in 2015, the province responded by banning the use of large body-gripping traps – sometimes called Conibear traps – on municipal land. Despite the ban, the devices are still permitted on crown land.

Lindsay said he doesn’t know how many trapping complaints the city has received in recent years, but said he’s “not aware of a significant number.” 
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