No deal yet between City of Campbell River, SPCA

The two parties met Tuesday morning to discuss a way to bring the society back to Campbell River

There’s still no deal between the BC SPCA and the city after the two parties met Tuesday morning to discuss a way to bring the society back to Campbell River.

Craig Daniell, chief executive officer of the BC SPCA, emerged from city hall more than one and a half hours after the meeting began and addressed the large crowd of SPCA supporters who rallied outside.

“There’s no final deal yet. We both have work to do,” Daniell said. “We’re going to go away and see how we can make it work in Campbell River.”

Veterinarian Helen Kwong who, along with Cyriel DeBruyne, was selected as a public representative to listen in on the meeting, was optimistic after the two sides met.

“I feel more of a glimmer of hope of the SPCA coming back to Campbell River,” Kwong said. “I think council has a tad more than a rudimentary understanding of what the SPCA is all about. The question is how big of a financial gap is going to exist between what the city will offer and the SPCA is able to accept? Certainly the community will have to fundraise in a major way.”

The SPCA is offering to provide animal pound services for $95,000 per year, but that’s more than the city budgeted.

The city gave its animal enforcement contract to Coastal Animal Control for $105,000 but held off on awarding the animal pound contract to Coastal for $25,000 per year.

Council instead agreed to meet with the BC SPCA, which requested the city reconsider its decision on the animal impound contract.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council and Daniell discussed recent history and clarified each organization’s mandate. The SPCA’s goal was to give council a better understanding of all the services the organization provides. Kwong said council proposed a partnership between the city and the SPCA to build a new shelter.

“The city will donate the land and has contractors ready to donate their time and perhaps some materials, but how will the SPCA maintain this building?” Kwong questioned. “The mayor (Walter Jakeway) has suggested that the SPCA behave like a charity rather than a contractor at which time the city would look more favourably on them and treat them with kinder words. This is a technicality that the SPCA will have to examine more closely.

I fear it may be full of land mines. It it were so easy, it probably would have (already) been thought of.”

Jakeway said the meeting provided some more clarity.

“It was helpful for council to meet in person with Mr. Daniell and openly discuss options for how the city and community can assist the SPCA in providing quality care services for animals in need in Campbell River,” he said.

Before the two parties left the table, council asked for additional data and clarification of financial information about the Campbell River SPCA branch, which the BC SPCA agreed to provide.

Before sitting down to meet, the BC SPCA and the city were thousands of dollars apart in negotiating a deal.

While the BC SPCA asked for $95,000 to provide animal impound services, the city offered the BC SPCA a contract of $58,000 for pound services, plus a $34,000 grant-in-aid to assist with animal welfare issues.

The city asked the SPCA to reserve five dog runs for impounded animals and share the small, cramped office space in the shelter on Merecroft Road with Coastal Animal Control.

Meanwhile, SPCA supporters will be out in full force again next week, with a walk along the Sea Walk, starting at 6:30 p.m. this Tuesday at Frank James Park in Willow Point.