Delta is prepared to promote the city’s feathered friends, but not to call itself the bird capital of Canada.
That was the message that came out after council approved a proposal last week from staff to support local biologist Myles Lamont in his quest to get Delta recognized as the bird and raptor capital of the country.
“Staff did not feel comfortable all of a sudden declaring ourselves something without doing more research, more homework, understanding that,” director of corporate services Sean McGill told council. “Do I think it’s a good idea with potential? Maybe, but I don’t think it’s right now.”
Although the city won’t be backing Lamont’s suggested title change quite yet, it will be doing what it can in the short term.
“We’re doing everything we can,” McGill said. “We’re trying to acknowledge the intent of what [Lamont] was trying to accomplish.”
In June, Lamont submitted a letter to council requesting that Delta work with a variety of partners to promote the importance of birds and wildlife in the city.
In that initial proposal, Lamont requested the city help develop an app that could be used as a virtual tour guide to birding hot spots in the area, create a website to provide education materials on local birds and expedite the creation of signs along Highway 99.
The goal, he said, was to get a large portion of those done in time for the International Ornithological Congress coming to Vancouver this August. It doesn’t look that that will happen.
The permanent signage Lamont was hoping for will not be in place for the congress. According to staff, it has taken longer than six months to get approval for highway signs from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in the past.
As a temporary measure, staff recommended that the city install temporary bus stop signs (some of which are already in place on bus stops in South Delta) and electronic message boards to point people towards prominent birding areas.
Banners will also be put up in the city, something that was included in Delta’s Birds and Biodiversity Conversation Strategy, approved long before Lamont’s letter came in.
The city is has also launched the #BirdsofDelta social media campaign, set to run thorugh to Aug. 26, providing daily facts about local birds and their impact in the community. The social media posts will be given hashtags to reflect Delta, the bird of the day and the International Ornithological Congress.
#BirdsofDelta – Great Horned Owl
Dark brown with large ear tufts, this owl hangs out in large trees where it roosts during the day. Learn more about the Great Horned Owl and other birds in #DeltaBC at https://t.co/qXwTkBzfYy. #OursToPreserve pic.twitter.com/LwtzBqO2ln
— City of Delta (@CityofDeltaBC) July 20, 2018
“This is a two-phased approach,” McGill said. “Do everything we can now, and come back to council at a future date.”
Although council was supportive of the majority of the actions, the design of the bus stop signs drew some ire.
“I’m happy with us doing this, but I am a little bit concerned about the Fraser Delta sign,” Mayor Lois Jackson said. “I’ll be very blunt. I don’t know how they depict birds.”
The signs, as shown in the report attachments, does show some stylized birds but also features two people in canoes, and a background map.
McGill noted that the signs were initially made for another purpose, and were being installed as a temporary measure for the bird campaign.
In the future, Delta will be working with Lamont, Tourism Delta and other biologists and stakeholders to look at options for a long-term strategy to promote birding in Delta.