The Strathcona Regional District is looking into the feasibility of taking on the SPCA.
Director and City Councillor Larry Samson put forward a motion asking regional district staff to look at options for funding the service.
Samson put forward a motion that staff look into a shared SPCA service between all the areas that make up the Strathcona Regional District. He further suggested the regional district approach the Regional District of Mount Waddington (North Island) about participating in a North Island service with cost sharing options. With the Campbell River branch ceasing its operations over the Easter weekend, there is currently no SPCA north of the Comox Valley.
The SPCA had been contracted out by the city to provide animal control services for the past 30 years. Brenda Leigh, director for Area D, said her area has also made annual contributions to the SPCA, including $59,000 in both 2012 and 2013. Area D dog owners also purchase licences for their dogs.
Leigh said as a contributer to the SPCA, she doesn’t understand why the city never consulted her when it decided to award its animal services contract to a different company.
“Area D has been paying through their taxes and we buy dog licences,” Leigh said. “I want to formally object that we were not consulted about the change in contract. Campbell River made this decision behind closed doors and without consulting us and I’m very, very unhappy with that. I want the SPCA back for my constituents.”
But other electoral directors had no interest in a regional SPCA.
“I understand about animal welfare but this is not something I could take back to my community and ask them to pay for,” said Craig Anderson, director representing Gold River.
Gerald Whalley, Area A director, said the same thing.
“This isn’t something I can take back to my constituents in Kyuquot or Sayward, it’s just not appropriate for us,” Whalley said.
Director and City Councillor Ron Kerr was unimpressed with the electoral directors’ disinterest.
“The one thing I’ve heard a lot of is ‘I can’t take this back to my community’. But what we’ve come to realize in the past couple of months is a lot of the electoral areas and North Island communities are bringing their animals to our shelter,” Kerr said. “It may not be appropriate at this very instant to deal with it, but it is an important issue and we can’t let it slide.”
Ted Lewis, director representing Zeballos, said he would be happy with such a service as his community does not have the capacity to run an animal shelter.
“This is something I’d gladly take to my council because we’ve spent hours talking about this with no solution,” Lewis said.
In the end, the board voted to have staff look into a regional SPCA shelter. Leigh, John MacDonald (Sayward), Abram, and Anderson were opposed.