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Mayor wants help for freezing SPCA staff

Mayor Walter Jakeway wants to get SPCA workers out of the cold and into a new building.

He said when the colder weather sets in, the staff’s hands start to freeze because the aging building has a poor heating system. It’s also cramped, impractical, and too hot in the summer.

“They’re extremely congested in there and they have problems with heating in the winter,” Jakeway said at a council meeting Aug. 14. “I’d like to suggest putting in a modular building so that they could move in there in the winter so staff don’t have to wear gloves.”

Kathleen Embree, manager of the Campbell River SPCA branch, confirmed it’s “extremely cold” in the wintertime, to the point that SPCA staff’s fingers are so frozen that they can’t type. She said the problem is the heaters tend to overload the circuit system, and present a fire hazard.

“We have little portable heaters but people bump into them and we don’t want to use them because of course that’s a fire hazard,” Embree said. “There’s a radiant heater panel in the ceiling that was put in three to four years ago but the duct work that’s been added on is not functioning properly. We need a new building, it’s about 30 years old. Eventually we’d like to get a new shelter, whether it’s city built or SPCA built.”

The problem is the SPCA has not been able to raise any money for a new shelter because all the fundraising the branch does goes towards the costly upkeep of the animals.

Embree said the SPCA spends about $60,000 each year in vet bills.

“We’re doing what we can for the animals, that’s our primary concern,” Embree said.

Enter Jakeway.

The mayor would like council to provide the SPCA with a modular office space to accommodate the staff in the interim.

Embree said it would be nice to have the open space. The existing building has a narrow hallway and the staff offices offer no privacy from the front counter.

“When I’m doing an interview I need confidentiality. Right now the public can hear us on the telephone,” she said. “It would help because it would open things up and there would be less computer terminals crammed into the existing space which would make it not as hot (in the summer).”

But council was hesitant to take the mayor’s suggestion.

“We have an SPCA reserve fund to the tune of $2,700 in it and that’s it,” Coun. Andy Adams said. “I would suggest it’s more of a strategic decision for council.”

Jakeway said he wanted to get moving on it now, rather than wait for the strategic planning session sometime in October.

“I brought it up now because we’re heading into winter and last winter they were wearing gloves so they could use their pens,” he said.

But council wanted more information from staff on the impacts of purchasing a modular building.

“A good first step would be a report on viability and costs,” Coun. Claire Moglove said. “We don’t have money in the 2012 budget for this.”

In the end, council voted to have staff come back with a report on the viability and potential costs of accommodating the SPCA.

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