SPCA still hopes to use Maritime Heritage Centre

Miscommunication led to the current mix-up between the SPCA and the City of Campbell River

The BC SPCA is clarifying why the city had no prior knowledge of its plan to open an animal adoption centre in a city-owned building.

Lorie Chortyk, spokesperson for the BC SPCA, said the society was under the impression the caretakers of the Maritime Heritage Centre, – where the society wants to lease out space to run an adoption and education centre – had already filled out the proper paperwork with the city.

“We had thought the building landlords had already sent the request for rezoning into city hall, but they are just in the process of doing that, which is why city staff weren’t aware of it yet,” Chortyk said. “We are hoping there will be a positive response to the request when council meets on Aug. 13.”

According to Chortyk, the SPCA is submitting a re-zoning request to the city to allow animal-related uses in the Maritime Heritage Centre. The SPCA, in a July 30 news release, said the application would be up for review by council at its Aug. 13 meeting.

However, the city issued its own release the next day saying it had not been informed of the SPCA’s plans nor had there been a request for the re-zoning application to be discussed at the August meeting.

Further complicating matters is the agreement between the Maritime Heritage Society and the city that stipulates the building can only be leased out for marine-related activities or as a public meeting space.

“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,” said Dave Morris, the city’s general manager of facilities and supply.

But Chortyk said the Centre is an ideal location, particularly because of Campbell River’s cat over-population issues, “Having an adoption centre in an area where visitors from other communities could potentially meet – and adopt – these wonderful animals would make a life-saving difference for animals who will not find a home in this community,” Chortyk said.

She added that it’s been difficult for the SPCA to find a place to re-locate to on short notice.

“Since March, when the SPCA’s contract at the city-owned shelter was cancelled, senior SPCA officials have investigated numerous leasehold spaces…trying to find a suitable location to re-establish our operations,” Chortyk said. “It has been challenging to find a space that is appropriate for animal care and financially feasible, but we believe we have found the right home – to assume we could quickly find another suitable location is just not a reality.”

Chortyk said the landlord is in the process of filing the re-zoning application.

“To derail the opening…over misconceptions based on old shelter models would do a huge disservice to the animals who desperately need our help and to the incredible SPCA supporters in Campbell River who have worked so hard to bring their SPCA back,” Chortyk said.