Lambs explore the fields at the Parry Bay Sheep Farm in Metchosin. (Kendra Wong/News Staff)

Lambs explore the fields at the Parry Bay Sheep Farm in Metchosin. (Kendra Wong/News Staff)

CRD committee proposes ending livestock payouts to farmers

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979

Capital Regional District staff are examining ways for municipalities to compensate their own farmers for livestock killed by rogue dogs.

Currently, a CRD bylaw compensates farmers in Highlands, Metchosin, Sooke, Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area for livestock that have been lost to unknown dogs.

The Electoral Areas Committee is proposing to amend the bylaw to stop compensating farmers.

Based on the bylaw, the six municipalities pool resources to compensate farmers up to $750 per animal. No maximum limit is set out for compensation claims, according to a report submitted by the Electoral Areas Committee. The two most recent compensation claims were for $2,043 and $4,500.

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979. Money from dog licensing fees goes towards compensating farmers.

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“Removing this provision will no longer make participants in the service area insurers for those who keep livestock,” the Electoral Areas Committee report reads. “It will shift the responsibility of compensation onto the individual livestock owner to insure their animals, which most already do.”

However, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks, who also chairs the Electoral Areas Committee, said his municipality should not have to pay for livestock losses in a different jurisdiction.

“I was the main person that was pushing this basically out of the fact that I didn’t feel it was right for the Juan de Fuca to have to compensate a goat farmer somewhere else,” Hicks said. “We want the same right as other municipalities (to) make our own decisions… so in other words Juan de Fuca would compensate Juan de Fuca farmers.”

Hicks said the CRD staff are currently looking at how the municipalities can go about being responsible for their own livestock, rather than contributing to payouts in other municipalities.

Andy Orr, a spokesperson for the CRD, said staff will revisit the issue at the next Electoral Areas Committee meeting in early February.

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Hicks said he would like to propose that the CRD covers all Greater Victoria municipalities when it comes to livestock losses, not just the six specific municipalities.

“We can afford it if the combined cost is lower,” Hicks said.

If the bylaw amendment to end payouts passes, no claims made after Jan. 16, 2019 would be paid.

Currently, the CRD only compensates for livestock losses to rogue or unknown dogs. If the farmer knows the owner of the dog, then the farmer is responsible for seeking compensation.

In order to process a claim, a CRD staff member and veterinarian typically investigate the report to ensure the animal was, indeed killed by a dog.

The report says the process can cost about $1,000 or more depending on the location and nature of the claim and not including the actual cost of compensation.

“The CRD does not specifically budget for these claims. This amount is borne by the operating budget for animal control, as dog licensing fees are an inadequate form of collection for such compensation,” the report reads. “Since this function was introduced, livestock insurance has become widely available, which often includes coverage for home and contents, farm products and other damage.”

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