-5.7 C
Fort St. John
Monday, December 10, 2018
Tel: 250-787-7100
Email: contact@energeticcity.ca
9924 101 ave Fort St. John, B.C.
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City staff provide options for Cat Bylaw in Fort St. John to City Council

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Staff with the City of Fort St. John presented some options to City Council on Monday when it comes to a proposed Cat Bylaw.

Back in 2016, the City received indications from citizens that more needed to be done when it comes to cats.

On October 11, Council directed City staff to bring enforcement actions back to them for consideration.

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Staff have come back with four options for the City to consider:

  • ‘Basic Option A’
  • ‘Basic Option B’
  • ‘Intermediate’
  • ‘Advanced’

BASIC OPTION A

  • Voluntary licensing
  • Ticketing for having too many cats (4 or more)
  • Cats in heat to be confined to a house

The City listed the following ‘pros’ for Basic Option A:

  • Lowest impact on enforcement (Bylaw staff)
  • Bylaw will not be trapping cats
  • If registered, it should increase return rate
  • No license fee should mitigate abandonment of cats

The City listed the following ‘cons’ for Basic Option A:

  • The city does not have a pound keeper agreement with the SPCA with respect to cats
  • The impact on the SPCA will be significant as there is no capacity and the costs of housing a cat is estimated at $536 per month. There is also a capital cost component (more space) to be considered
  • Limited ticketing options may not satisfy public.
  • If not registered, it will be impossible to track cats.
  • Will require additional support from other departments (i.e. Finance & IT)

BASIC OPTION B

  • Mandatory licensing for cats over 3 months
  • Ticketing for too many cats (4 or more) and cats at large
  •  Cats in heat to be confined to house

The City listed the following ‘pros’ for Basic Option B:

  • Bylaw will not be trapping cats
  • Requirement for registration should increase return rate
  • Able to create stats on cats in the community
  • Anticipated higher level of public satisfaction
  • Equal treatment as dog owners

The City listed the following ‘cons’ for Basic Option B:

  • Increased service level for Bylaw staff
  • The city does not have a pound keeper agreement with the SPCA with respect to cats
  • Significant impact on SPCA : no capacity, cat housing cost is estimated at $536 per month
  • May result in abandonment issues due to cost. May want to have amnesty period.
  • Will require additional support from other departments (i.e. Finance & IT)
  • No proactive enforcement only by written complaint

INTERMEDIATE 

  • Mandatory licensing for cats over 3 month
  • Ticketing for too many cats (3 or more) & cats at large
  • Leash law
  • Cats in heat to be confined to house or pen

The City has listed the following ‘pros’ for Intermediate:

  • Requirement for registration should increase return rate
  • Able to create stats on cats in the community
  • Anticipated higher level of public satisfaction
  • Equal treatment as dog owners

The City has listed the following ‘cons’ for Intermediate:

  • Increased service level for Bylaw /additional staff/equipment/training
  • The city does not have a pound keeper agreement with the SPCA with respect to cats
  • The impact on the SPCA will be significant as there is no capacity and the costs of housing a cat is estimated at $536 per month. There is also a capital cost component (more space) to be considered
  • May result in abandonment issues due to cost. May want to have amnesty period
  • Will require additional support from other departments (i.e. Finance & IT)
  • Enforcement only by written complaint

ENHANCED 

  • Mandatory licensing for cats over 3 months
  • Ticketing for too many cats (3 or more) & cats at large
  • Leash law
  • Increased fine amounts
  • Cats in heat to be confined to house or pen

The City has listed the following ‘pros’ for Enhanced:

  • Proactive enforcement model
  • Requirement for registration should increase return rate
  • Able to create stats on cats in the community
  • Anticipated higher level of public satisfaction
  • Equal treatment as dog owners

The City listed the following ‘cons’ for Enhanced:

  • High service level for Bylaw /additional staff/equipment/training. May not be sustainable.
  • The city does not have a pound keeper agreement with the SPCA with respect to cats
  • The impact on the SPCA will be significant as there is no capacity and the costs of housing a cat is estimated at $536 per month
  • There is also a capital cost component (more space) to be considered.
  • May result in abandonment issues due to cost/fines. May want to have amnesty period
  • Will require additional support from other departments (i.e. Finance & IT)

Council also could choose to maintain the status quo and concentrate efforts on public education, and responsible pet ownership directed at cat owners.

City staff also noted that The Pound keeper Agreement expires in 2019. This would allow time to engage the SPCA in a discussion about capacity issues and long term building plans.

NEXT STEPS

  • Council has been asked to select one of the enforcement options from the matrix provided (Cats only), and direct staff to develop a set of specific public engagement questions related to the option chosen.
  • City staff will consolidate and analyze the information to ascertain any operational or stakeholder impacts, and provide a report to Council indicating the specific impacts and mitigation strategies that will need to be examined before adoption of a final position.
  • Develop a draft set of regulations based upon the feedback
  • Present the proposed regulation(s) in a public forum where Council and staff can receive feedback on the proposed regulation(s)

“The cat regulation issue has been brought before Council several times over the years, the last time in 2010. At that time, Council chose to receive the report for information, with no changes to the Animal Control Bylaw. Despite that decision, the issue of free roaming domesticated and feral cats remains a constant irritation for a number of residents who feel that cats should be regulated in the same fashion as dogs.”

The local SPCA branch in Fort St. John says they would be in favour of a Cat Bylaw.

“The BC SPCA North Peace Branch would be in favour of a proposed cat containment bylaw that requires that any owned cat allowed outdoor access be confined in a cat enclosure or ‘catio,’ or that they be monitored on harness and tether on their home property. Spacing requirements would need to be discussed.”

To view the SPCA’s view on cat containment benefits and cat licensing benefits, visit: https://fortstjohn.civicweb.net/FileStorage/F132A142A97A4E9695B4E76A70FB6B03-AB.pdf.

When visiting the above link, you can also view other communities that have Cat Bylaws currently in Alberta and British Columbia.

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