Residents showed their support for the SPCA Wednesday at city hall during a proclamation to kick off a month-long fundraiser. About 50 people gathered on the front lawn of city hall as Acting Mayor Larry Samson declared May to be SPCA month in Campbell River.

Campbell River SPCA makes ‘lean’ counter-offer

The latest proposal from the SPCA is to run the animal shelter for $80,000 per year

The SPCA lowered its asking price in a bid to resume its services in Campbell River.

Veterinarian Helen Kwong said the latest proposal from the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is to run the animal shelter for $80,000 per year; the SPCA originally asked the city for $95,000.

Kwong said while what the SPCA did is admirable, she can’t see the lower price being financially sustainable for the society which said it costs $400,000 each year to run the Campbell River shelter.

“I know the SPCA made a proposal to the city and the amount they provided is $80,000,” Kwong told a crowd of SPCA supporters gathered at city hall Wednesday afternoon to hear Acting Mayor Larry Samson proclaim May as SPCA month. “I think it is a lean figure to operate the SPCA. The community will have to subsidize our shelter.”

Kwong said if the community can raise the money, the SPCA could relocate back to Campbell River in as little as two days.

The SPCA pulled its operations in Campbell River over the Easter weekend after city council awarded its animal enforcement contract to Coastal Animal Control for $105,000 – a chunk of money the SPCA used towards its operations. Without that extra money, the SPCA was forced to turn down the city’s offer of $58,000 to run the animal shelter plus an additional $34,000 grant-in-aid.

Since then, the community has lobbied city council to change its mind and bring the SPCA back. Part of the problem is the city only budgeted $164,000 for both animal control and pound services; the SPCA’s quote would put council over that figure.

Kwong said a meeting two weeks ago between herself, SPCA chief executive officer Craig Daniell, SPCA supporter Cyriel DeBruyne and city council did not resolve some of the long-standing issues, particularly the conditions that the SPCA was working in.

“What was discussed and what is being offered is unconscionable,” Kwong said. “It has been suggested that the former SPCA building be split into two separate buildings with the SPCA taking about 40 per cent and Coastal Animal Control Services taking the remaining 60 per cent. The Campbell River SPCA was bulging at the seams already and you want to stuff them in less than 50 per cent of the space? In the summer, the staff ran fans with ice in front of them to cool the animals and in the winter, the heating was inadequate. Why spend thousands of dollars to commission an engineering study and split a dysfunctional building?”

But Wednesday during the proclamation at city hall, Acting Mayor Larry Samson said council recognizes that the shelter  is in need of major renovations. The difficulty is most of the SPCA’s fundraising efforts went towards the costly upkeep of the animals – its number one priority – rather than a new building, and the city’s SPCA reserve fund only has around $2,700 in it as of last September.

Kwong would be satisfied with having the SPCA move back into the shelter on Merecroft Road and share the space with Coastal Animal Control until the community can raise enough money to build a new shelter.