Council rejected one of the changes to the city’s animal control bylaw that city staff recommended following complaints from several residents.
The changes became necessary following a review of the city’s original bylaw as it was being handed over to Coastal Animal Control.
City Clerk Peter Wipper said that “during the process of reviewing these new contracts, it became apparent that the city’s animal control bylaw was out of date.”
The changes include shortening the amount of time Coastal Animal Control is required to keep an impounded animal, clarifying that only one barking complaint has to be received to prompt the animal control officer to follow up with a dog’s owner, as well designating an animal control officer with the ability to designate a dog as vicious.
The changes, which had received first three readings were up for adoption at Tuesday night’s council meeting, but not all of them were welcomed by the public.
Coun. Andy Adams said in looking at e-mails to the mayor from the public that “the predominant theme” was that people were unhappy with the change to the timeframe for impoundment. Staff recommended council change the time required to keep an impounded animal from five days to three, as Wipper said “almost all impounded dogs are picked up within one to two days.”
But Adams questioned the need to reduce the time animals should be held and made a motion to keep the impoundment period at five days, which was approved by council.
“It (the draft bylaw) doesn’t define whether it’s business days or calendar days and I think there are times when three days could be an issue,” Adams said. “I’ve carefully read through the e-mails and a lot of the comments made are covered in the bylaw here; this is the one that jumped out at me.”
According to Jakeway, most of the e-mails urged council to hold off on passing the changes to the bylaw.
“Over the weekend I’ve received probably four e-mails and you could tell by the way they were written it was organized to try and delay our approval here tonight,” Jakeway said. “My belief is, in local government people get a voice and if we rush things through, especially when it’s not urgent, we’re denying that chance to speak; so I think we need a delay.”
Coun. Larry Samson agreed that more public input is needed before going ahead with the bylaw.
“I have some concerns about this bylaw. I’d like to see that we get some more public feedback,” Samson said. “We passed first three readings in one meeting and I don’t think the public has had adequate time to look at it and it’s over summer holidays to boot. I’d like to defer the bylaw until late September to give the public a chance to digest it and give us a chance to get some feedback from the public.”
Council in the end did not vote in favour of holding off on the bylaw, but passed the bylaw with the amendment to keep the impoundment period at five days.