Regional partners are making no bones about it – they will not be giving $550,000 to the BC SPCA for a new facility in Trail.
“It’s not that we don’t support the SPCA,” says Grace McGregor, regional board chair. “It’s that money is tight and sometimes we have to make these decision whether we want to or not.”
With the organization slated to close its current shelter on Highway 3B by June 2016, the BC SPCA proposed a series of replacement options to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) board directors earlier this year.
Most costly, was a half million-plus joint venture with the regional district. The potential project included building a $1.6 million adoption, education, and limited veterinary service centre on Old Waneta Road acreage the non-profit already owns.
Not only was new construction nixed, but so was the suggestion of bringing more vet operations to town.
Reviewing the matter fell to a four-member subcommittee from Rossland, Warfield, Trail and Fruitvale, and its list of recommendations were brought to and approved by the board at Thursday’s meeting.
“The subcommittee did an awful lot of work on this and I commend them,” said McGregor.
“This is a passionate thing because we care about our animals and everyone else’s animals, and we want them looked after.”
Sitting as a smaller group, or subcommittee, means all documentation, avenues and possibilities are explored before recommendations pass and decisions are made, she noted.
“They weighed everything when they looked at this,” McGregor continued. “And as a board we felt the way it was presented, we made an informed decision.”
Discussion took place based on the four recommendations put forward, Trail Mayor Mike Martin said, referring to the June 18 RDKB board meeting.
“They were adopted by the board to move forward. Combined with that, although we have no jurisdiction in this, is we intend to send a letter to the BC SPCA strongly discouraging them from putting in place veterinary services in our community as part of this venture.”
Martin clarified the group proposed bringing limited services to a new site to deal with spay and neutering.
“We had members of this committee speak with a number of local veterinarians,” he explained.
“As a result of that dialogue we came to the conclusion that having the BC SPCA put in additional veterinarian services, given the limited population, would not service anyone well.”
Instead, the subcommittee recommends the organization continue to work with already established local vet clinics for appropriate contracted services.
“The point of view is that this may work very well in large urban centres,” said Martin.
“But given our rural location and the fact we have excellent veterinary services, by our count five within 100 kilometres of Trail – we are (already) well serviced with top notch facilities.”
East End Animal Control Service participants, which include Fruitvale, Montrose and Trail contracting from Area A and Area B, are hoping to continue dialogue with the BC SPCA over the kenneling of impounded animals.
“We are respecting the fact that the SPCA really doesn’t want to be in animal control so we are prepared to take a different route if needed,” Martin said. “(We will ask) what would it take by way of financial contribution to facilitate the SPCA agreeing to kennel impounded animals.”
Following a review of local statistics, the subcommittee suggested provisions for up to six animals at any one time would suffice. That number is significantly less than BC SPCA’s proposal included in its option, titled Community Animal Centre with Kenneling Facilities for Animal Control.
“We just did a count of the number of impounded animals in our service area and it’s not great,” Martin said, mentioning the regional district may consider taking over the current building once the group vacates. “That could meet the short term needs,” he noted. “Long term, the service may investigate construction of a small kennel, but that is some time down the road.”
A final recommendation East End participants agreed to is a review of respective animal control bylaws.
“Right now we all have different bylaws in place,” Martin added. “It makes some sense to harmonize those bylaws if possible so we agreed to have a look at that.”
While the SPCA maintains its commitment to servicing the area, the group deemed conditions in its 33-year old facility detrimental to the health and welfare of staff, volunteers and animals.
After the province announced $5 million in capital funding to support the BC SPCA’s eight-year facilities development plan, funds were earmarked for Trail.
The regional district has to look at the big picture and how situations play out for the whole RDKB, said McGregor.
“Sometimes when you put your regional hat on, you come up with a little different answer than if you have your councillor or electoral area hat on,” she explained. “We have to look at where we are spending money, what are the priorities and who dies this benefit. Its about the whole picture.”