Not so fast, says city regarding new SPCA location

The SPCA wants to put its new Campbell River office in the Maritime Heritage Centre, but they need to rezone first

The BC SPCA is moving forward with plans to open a new education and adoption centre in Campbell River despite the city’s warning that the site is not appropriate.

The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) issued a news release July 30, saying they would lease space in the Maritime Heritage Centre.

“We’re extremely excited to be entering this new phase of our life in Campbell River and we hope to be fully operational by the end of August or early September, once the leasing agreement has been finalized and we have completed the necessary leasehold improvements and renovations,” said Bob Busch, general manager of operations for the BC SPCA. “We looked at a number of potential locations and we feel this is the right fit for our new centre.”

However, to move there would require re-zoning which the SPCA hoped would be on the Aug. 13 council agenda.

On Wednesday though, the city released its own news release stating that it was never informed of the SPCA’s plan and a rezoning application is not currently on the council meeting docket.

“While the SPCA’s July 30 news release makes it sound like their intention to move into the Maritime Heritage Centre is a sure thing, we wish to clarify that we have not been consulted on this proposal,” said Dave Morris, the city’s general manager of facilities and supply, in a news release. “Without formal details from either the Maritime Heritage Society or the SPCA, we are only in a position to confirm that the existing zoning and facility use agreement for this property do not permit the use proposed in the SPCA news release.”

That’s because an agreement between the city and the Maritime Heritage Society requires that the city-owned facility may only be used for maritime activities or as a public meeting space.

Morris said the city recently received an inquiry from Maritime Heritage Society staff about the feasibility of housing an animal adoption centre in the building and using the park next to the building as a dog exercise area.

On July 25, the city told the society that the proposal contravenes the intent of the occupation agreement and the zoning does not allow for animal-related uses.

But the SPCA is trying to move forward by interviewing candidates for branch manager and will hire additional staff once the manager is in place.

On the SPCA’s Campbell River branch website, the mast head has already been changed to read Campbell River Education and Adoption Centre, with a message, “we are currently working on plans to open our new Education and Adoption Centre in the Maritime Heritage Centre building at 621 Island Highway and we hope to be fully operational by early September.”

 

Kathleen Embree, former manager of the local SPCA branch, posted on the Campbell River SPCA’s Facebook page that “renovations will start soon, with hopes of opening towards the end of August. Can’t be fast enough, but this town will be proud of what can and will be done.”