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Thursday , 23 September 2021

Animal Intake Centre Public Open House in the works by City of Cold Lake

The City of Cold Lake currently contracts the Lakeland Humane Society (LHS) to provide services under the Pound Keeper Agreement. The LHS also leases space from the City for the LHS operations including their adoption programs (within their donated mobile facility). Although it has come to the attention of the City of Cold Lake that the LHS has recently purchased a facility outside the City of Cold Lake, the Mayor of Cold Lake says the City has a public open house in the works to answer any questions with regards to the facility the public may have.

With the construction of the City’s new animal intake facility, and the LHS announcement of their purchase of a new facility in the MD of Bonnyville for their operations, there has been increased media attention in relation to the future operations of the City’s animal intake Administration told Council at the most recent meeting. Therefore, the City of Cold Lake has decided to hold a public open house at a future date in relation to the animal intake facility.

“We’re still building that intake facility, it’s going to take a long time to build it and it won’t be up and running till probably second quarter of 2022,” Mayor Craig Copeland told Lakeland Connect in an exclusive interview. “Council put some money towards capital of the replacement of a building because our building wasn’t very nice. And so, that’s ongoing and so the idea is to eventually have a public open house, whether it’s in October or November, and well just have a public open house and try to present information to the public and answer any questions”

According to the Legislative Framework for Animal Intake Pursuant section 7 of the Municipal Government Act, municipalities have the general jurisdiction, but no obligation, to pass bylaws respecting wild and domestic animals and activities in relation to them.

Administration explained to Council in the most recent meeting that The Animal Protection Act, RSA 2000, c A-41, establishes requirements of a Peace Officer where a Peace Officer chooses to either take custody of an animal in distress under section 3(1) or take custody of an abandoned animal under section 4.1(2).

The following legislative requirements are triggered as soon as a Peace Officer exercises the discretion to take custody of an animal:

  •  If a peace officer takes custody of an animal pursuant to section 3(1) or 4.1(2) of the Animal Protection Act, the peace officers MUST deliver animals to a humane society or a caretaker (sections 3(2)(a) and 4.1(3))
  • Animals delivered to a humane society under sections 3(2)(a) or 4.1(3) cannot be sold or gifted to another person until a minimum number of days has passed (section 7). The required holding period is three days (for non-purebred animals) or ten days (for purebred animals and animals with identification) following which the animals can be sold or gifted to any other person or organization (section 7(1) and section 7(2)). Section 7.5 and section 7.6 of Bylaw No. 535-PL-14, Animal Care and Control Bylaw (passed on November 24, 2014) reiterates the legislative holding period of either 3 or 10 days.

Additionally, there are three other situations described in Bylaw No. 535-PL-14 administration explained to Council which can result in animals being impounded in the City’s animal intake facility:

  •  a Peace Officer may take an animal into protective impoundment at the Pound for a maximum period of five days if the Officer feels the health of an animal is in immediate jeopardy constituting an emergency situation (section 9.3)
  •  a Peace Officer may receive animals pursuant to an eviction, incarceration, fire, medical emergency, or similar situation, in which case the animal will be taken to the Pound and treated as normal impoundment (section 9.4)
  • Where an animal has bitten or attacked, the animal immediately enters a mandatory quarantine period of 10 days, which may occur at the discretion of the Peace Officer, at the Pound.

When animals are taken to the City’s pound and are not able to be reunited with their family during the holding period, the Bylaw lists the options available to the Pound Keeper:

  • Any animal left at the Pound beyond the holding period identified in section 7.5 or 7.6 of the City Bylaw may be disposed of by the Pound Keeper at their discretion by: Selling it to any person for an amount equal to the impound, vaccination (if necessary), and licensing fees; Selling it to a person according to the criteria set out in an adoption program, details of which can be found in Schedule “B” of this Bylaw; Having the animal destroyed by a qualified veterinarian in a humane manner; 7.7.4. Shipping it to another animal shelter or SPCA facility for adoption purposes; or 7.7.5. Shipping it to any certified educational institution for vivisection or other uses.

Vivisection is the practice of performing operations on live animals for the purpose of experimentation or scientific research.

City of Cold Lake Administration told Council that these bylaw provisions have been in place since 2014 and have not been amended. In
practice, the animals that remain at the facility after the holding period expires have entered the Lakeland Humane Society’s adoption program.

All provisions in relation to animal intake and holding have not changed since Bylaw No.535-PL-14 was passed in 2014. The City has not expressed plans to make changes to the bylaw, which governs the operations of the animal intake center.

“That being said, we understand from the local vets and the Lakeland Humane Society that some animals may be put down for various reasons, as it the most humane thing to do,” Administration said in the report to Council.

Animal Intake Facility and Leased Space

The Lakeland Humane Society (LHS) has leased space from the City of Cold Lake from 2010 to present at $1 per year.

However, City of Cold Lake Administration says for a number of years, there have been ongoing conversations with the LHS that the pound keeping facility was nearing or exceeding its useful life. As a result, on May 26, 2017 Council approved an Operating Budget amendment for the City to prepare a conceptual site and architectural plan for the LHS at their existing location of 6220 – 50 avenue in Cold Lake, owned by the City of Cold Lake, with an allocated budget of $22,500 to be funded from contingency.

This was approved to assist in moving forward with a needs assessment and new facility which was anticipated to have space for both the City’s obligations for animal intake and the LHS operations.

February 20, 2018 the Corporate Priorities Committee of Council was presented with a Schematic Design Report, developed by JMAA, in consultation with the LHS administration and City administration, for the development of a new facility for the LHS  operations and the City’s pound keeper operations. The building had a proposed budget of $3.5 to $4.5 million dollars (based on recent tenders $5 to $7 million). The proposed space was significantly larger and costlier than the City was anticipating; as the City’s needs for an animal intake center were only a small portion of the facility design.

The LHS requested the City contribute $2 million to their new adoption side of the facility. No budget allocation had been made for
the $2 million.

While it was deemed impractical to move ahead with the facility as designed (the LHS did not have the necessary fundraising in place for their side of the facility $3 million to $5 million), there was still a need for the replacement of the City’s animal intake facility.

On July 9, 2019 Council authorized the City to start the tender process for the replacement of the City’s animal intake facility which would be an approximately 4,000 square foot holding site for animals found at large (based on the design proposed by the LHS). The space was already designed in the overall plan of which the City simply separated the space to commence detailed design.

In this regard, the City advised the LHS that it would be initiating the construction of the animal intake center, understanding that the society was continuing to fundraise for the replacement of its adoption side of the facility. The facility design was amended to accommodate the attachment of the society’s proposed adoption centre, it the future.

According to Administration from the City of Cold Lake a total of $2,429,332 has been funded for the City’s animal intake facility as follows:

  • 2019 $ 500,000
  • 2020 $ 700,000
  • 2021 $ 800,000
  • 2021 $ 429,332

The above amounts also included the development of a new access road system and site servicing to improve esthetes in the neighborhood.

“The anticipated completion date for the construction of the animal intake facility is the first half of 2022, subject to any delays for construction,” City of Cold Lake Administration said. “Once the facility is completed, the facility can be commissioned.”

Contract for Pound Keeping

The Lakeland Humane Society (LHS) has been continuously exercising the duties of the City pound keeper or animal intake facility since 2001, when the City first entered into an agreement with the Lakeland Humane Society to run the City’s animal pound under the provisions of the “Care of Shelter Animals Agreement”.

The City’s most recent Pound Keeping Agreement was approved by Council on December 11, 2012 including a five year commitment for payment for services.

The following are fees paid to the LHS since 2001:
o 2001 – No fee was found under LHS
o 2002 – No fee was found under LHS
o 2003 – $815
o 2004 – $6,036
o 2005 – $6,892
o 2006 – $8,602
o 2007 – $6,811
o 2008 – $1,753
o 2009 – $55,000 (3,183 per cent Increase) + Animal Licenses
o 2010 – $80,000 (45 per cent Increase) + Animal Licenses
o 2011 – $113,766 (42 per cent Increase) + Animal Licenses
o 2012 – $126,000 (11 per cent Increase) + Animal Licenses
o 2013 – $126,000 (0 per cent Increase) + Animal Licenses
o 2014 – 137,326 (9 per cent Increase) + Animal Licenses
o 2015 – 145,443 (6 per cent Increase) + Animal Licenses
o 2016 – $157,020 (8 per cent Increase) + Animal Licenses
o 2017 – $163,081 (4 per cent increase) + Animal Licenses

The above figures do not include the City’s claim donation of $6,000 annually that is a General Ledger transfer to cover the lease fees of the land in which the City of Cold Lake owns, impound fees collect by the LHS, or animal licenses which are summarized as follows (when the City did collect the fees for animal licenses between 2001 and 2008):
 2001 – $22,205
 2002 – $15,887
 2003 – $12,483
 2004 – $14,615
 2005 – $10,488
 2006 – $14,585
 2007 – $15,185
 2008 – $15,351

On October 24, 2017, the Lakeland Humane Society made a delegation to Council with respect to the renewal of the Pound Keeper Agreement (which was set to expire Dec 31, 2017) requesting significantly increased remunerations for pound-keeping services in the following amounts:
o $217,020.00 for 2018 (33 per cent Increase);
o $227,871.00 for 2019 (5 per cent Increase);
o $234,707.13 for 2020 (3 per cent Increase);
o $241,748.34 for 2021 (3 per cent Increase);
o $249,000.79 for 2022 (3 per cent Increase)
o ln addition to 100 per cent of bylaw fines, impound fees, and animal license fees, and that all other terms of the new contract be the same as the previous contract (theses were not included in the above figures).

On February 20, 2018, the Corporate Priorities Committee of Council was advised that Administration was in discussions with the LHS respecting the scope of services under the Pound Keeper Agreement and the City’s financial commitment to the LHS under that agreement.

On July 9, 2019, Council authorized the City to move forward with the new Pound Keeper Agreement with the LHS to be brought to Council for consideration.  LHS seemed concerned and resistant to providing detailed financial information and review alternate approaches to
fees.

“However, with the new facility proceeding, negotiations for the Pound Keeper Agreement was delayed for various reasons and until details could be sorted out over the changes which would be required in the Pound Keeper Agreement, the service level expectations of Council (e.g. what should be funded by property taxes), and operational requirements for the new facility,” Administration told Elected Officials in the report presented. “As such, the LHS continued to operate under the existing agreement receiving $163,081 annually.”

The City has advised LHS that details are being worked out in relation to the new facility’s operational requirements, and it is anticipated that further information will be made available in late fall 2021, subject to the construction completion of the new facility. This was communicated to the LHS in March, 2021.

Recent Media Reports and Request for a Public Open House

Although it has come to the attention of the City of Cold Lake that the LHS has recently purchased a facility outside the City of Cold Lake, this intent was not communicated to the City, nor has the City received any communications in regards to changing the existing relationship between the City and the LHS or its plans to co-locate its adoption centre with the City’s new animal intake centre, Administration from the City of Cold Lake stated.

“That being said, the recent acquisition of their new facility is a tremendous opportunity for the society and the City of Cold Lake support any decisions the LHS makes for its operations,” Administration said in its report to Council.

Despite the recent media attention, Administration says the City has not altered its relationship with the LHS.

  • The City continues to have an active Pound Keepers Agreement with the LHS (again it is month to month). The City has not terminated the agreement or provided notice of termination.
  • The City continues to have an active lease agreement with the LHS to host their existing adoption center facility. The City has not terminated the lease or provided notice of termination.
  • The City has communicated with the LHS that there will be an intended change on how the animal intake facility operates with the purpose of being transparent with tax payers’ property tax dollars. Advising that operational details will not be available until closer to the completion of the animal intake centre.
  • LHS has not notified the City that LHS would be cancelling the Pound Keeping Agreement or the Lease Agreement.

The City says it would like to recognize the LHS’s tremendous work in its continued animal care and adoption programs which is funded by the society’s ongoing fundraising.

The City is reviewing and working on service delivery requirements, models, and costs for the new animal intake center as it must ensure due diligence on all tax payer funded services that are rendered, regardless of the type of service.

As recently as last week, Administration met with the LHS to continue discussions in relation to any perceived issues.

Lakeland Connect will bring you more information when the open public house date and time are finalized.

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About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner!