SPCA relinquishes animal control function

City council voted Tuesday night to contract out the service to a private company

The SPCA will no longer be in charge of animal control in Campbell River, effective this spring.

In a bid to lower its costs, city council voted Tuesday night to contract out the service to a private company, Coastal Animal Control Services, which will be in charge of nuisance complaints and public safety concerns. The SPCA has held both the city’s animal control and animal shelter services for more than 25 years but the contract expired last year and since then the SPCA has operated on three and six month contract extensions.

City staff agreed that changes were needed, specifically weekend and evening patrols and service to First Nations reserves, and issued a request for proposals in October.

Coastal Animal Patrol provided the city with a quote of $105,000 per year for the service, which includes evening and weekend patrols and an option to extend the service to First Nations lands, while the SPCA came back with a cost of $218,578 per year.

Peter Wipper, city clerk, said in his report to council that “there is no question that Coastal Animal Control Services would provide the best value to the city.”

Council agreed but discussions are still ongoing with what to do with the SPCA.

Wipper said that if the SPCA were to move out of the animal shelter, which is owned by the city, and Coastal Animal Control moved in and took over both animal control and shelter services, the city could cut costs by $40,000 each year. Wipper said if that were to happen, the SPCA would likely not be able to afford to operate.

“A compromise to address this issue would be to award the animal control contract to Coastal Animal Control and allow the SPCA to remain operating out of its current location while retaining the animal shelter contract,” Wipper said. “The new cost for 2013 would be based on Coastal Animal Shelter receiving $105,000 per year and the SPCA receiving a negotiated amount to run the animal shelter.”

Which is what council agreed to on Tuesday night.

“I just want to make clear to the public, this is obviously dealing with a service that is currently supplied by the SPCA, at least a portion is supplied by the SPCA,” Mayor Walter Jakeway said. “The city is still discussing with the SPCA their role in looking after animals in our city.

“This is not knocking the SPCA out of the picture, it’s just changing the business and what they’re working on. The public doesn’t need to be worried, the SPCA will probably still be there when this is all finished,” Jakeway said. “But there’s been lots of discussion on this in the last several months and there will probably be some more in the next few weeks.”

As it stands now, the SPCA will still continue to care for the dogs and cats that come into the shelter and also house any animals impounded by Coastal Animal Control Services.

The private company is expected to take over the reins of animal control as early as April 1. Once that happens, residents will need to call a new number to report animal complaints. The timing could be better, as the city just purchased stickers with the SPCA’s violation hotline number on park bylaw signs in July.

Coastal Animal Control currently provides animal control services in Nanaimo, North Cowichan, Ladysmith, Duncan, Lake Cowichan and the Alberni Clayquot Regional District. A survey of 11 municipalities and regional districts revealed Campbell River was the only local government using the SPCA for animal control; the others used municipal or private contractors.