Rossland council reviewed and voted for changes to the 2022 Animal Control Bylaw at its Nov. 16 meeting at Miners’ Hall.
A thorough discussion accompanied staff’s proposal to both reduce and increase fees and fines covered by Animal Bylaw #2797.
A staff report recommended licencing fees for dogs be reduced to a flat annual fee of $20 for sterilized dogs and $50 for non-sterilized dogs, down from $30 and $70 respectively. The proposed fees are the same as the previous “early bird discount” offered by the bylaw.
“As a newer Rossland resident, I am quite surprised by the number of unleashed roaming dogs,” said Coun. Lisa Kwiatkowski. “So I wonder why take the approach of lessening the responsibility of dog owners in terms of fees and fines?
“This may be contentious, but the privilege of having a dog in town should also come with quite a bit of responsibility and be equal to the amount of administrative burden it causes on our bylaw.”
Staff expained that because Rossland does not have a pound, the primary goal is to get residents to licence their pet, so they can be contacted if the animal goes missing and is found by the city bylaw.
The report also stated that the current fee structure creates significant staff time to apply the early-bird discount, and has resulted in confusion, complaints, and refusals to pay from residents who miss the Feb. 1 deadline. Ultimately, the change will save the city staff and bylaw both time and money implementing the one-time pay structure.
Coun. Eliza Boyce agreed with Kwiatkowski, saying that the potential fine for tying up your dogs downtown in a spot that is not an authorized dog parking station is punitive and the current stations unsafe.
“I have concerns with doubling or tripling fines for some of the dog infractions without any public consultation,” said Boyce. “I think there are some issues with the current dog bylaws.”
Changes to schedule C of the fees and penalties include increasing fees for dogs at large in a no-dog zone from $50 to $150. Dogs left unattended, and tied up except at an authorized dog parking station increased from $50 to $100.
“The designated areas are not good, one is an alley that cars drive through,” she added. “They are not practical, so I feel it is unfair to Rosslanders to be increasing fines for doing things that people are doing on a regular basis.”
Also, failure to advise the city of a change of address is now a $25 fine.
Reduced fees include the fines for a dog attack going from $1,000 to $500, and failing to advise of a dangerous dog attack from $750 to $500.
Mayor Andy Morel informed council that years ago the city had actually restricted dogs from the Main St. due to off-leash issues.
“We had a couple altercations, where dogs had knocked down elderly citizens and at that point council decided to make the point of getting some control over the Main street issue with dogs. So those parking spots we established, was to try and get people to recognize their dogs should be on a leash.
“The community does have a strong canine culture and it is certainly a challenge to get people to comply with even licensing. To me that should be mandatory, a lot of energy and expense goes towards dealing with just our animal bylaw.”
Boyce moved to strike the recommended changes to the fines, however, the motion failed.
Coun. Maya Provencal moved that the proposed bylaw be given second and third reading as presented. The motion carried, 4-2, with Kwiatkowski and Boyce opposed. The motion will be up for adoption at the next council meeting.