Representatives from the Cannery Road Animal Shelter were at Port Edward council on September 13 and outlined for council a much different project than what was first envisioned.
The initial plan was for a small building and a large, covered outdoor pen where animals would be housed and volunteers would care for the animals. However, the new plans call for the construction of a 16 foot long by approximately three foot high structure to house feral cats after they have been spayed or neutered. There would be fencing enclosing the areas on the ends of the building to prevent the animals from escaping, litter would be cedar chips that would be removed and cleaned regularly, volunteers would feed and care for the cats, and visiting veterinary schools would help with operations and procedures. The group says “those who cannot find homes shall live out their lives in the shelter”.
“We know realistically we’re not going to be able to have a big building because of the cost of heat and hydro and the number of volunteers required,” said Alice Kruta, one of the founders.
“At least we could have them all in one place and not running around Port Edward causing havoc…One of the reasons we want to do this so bad is because they are spreading disease among the feral cat population and that is being spread to people’s domestic animals,” added Nathalie Castonguay, another founder, noting that cat AIDS is becoming prevalent in the community.
The group pointed to the Parliament Hill Cat Sanctuary as an example of what could be done with the Cannery Row Animal Shelter, and said donations would help cover the costs while the results could be significant.
“Our goal is to spay and neuter the cats and eliminate the feral cat problem. There is a community up north that eliminated the feral cat population doing the same thing. We don’t want a permanent building because we don’t want to be doing this permanently,” said Castonguay.
“There is no solution right now and all we’re trying to do is find a solution,” added Kruta.
Before the group can proceed, they need land designated for the shelter and suggested the current dog impound or a spot beside the RV dump station. Mayor Dave MacDonald and council said they needed more information before they could do that, including a specific size for the structure. They also raised some concerns about the project.
“My biggest problem is that when we first spoke it would have had a building and be taken care of. Now it seems like this is a haphazard building…I’m really having a tough time seeing where this is going,” said mayor MacDonald, adding that he would be opposed to giving up the dog impound.
“When we talked about land, I thought it would be out of the way and not along Skeena Drive.”
Councillor Dan Franzen said he was concerned about the effect the shelter could have on neighbours and both he and councillor Knut Bjorndal said all residents of Port Edward had to be taken into account in any decision they make.
The group says it it also trying to get an audience with Prince Rupert City Council based on support for the project from residents.
“It is so heartening to be in Prince Rupert and have people want to talk to us about what the shelter does, and that people are tired of seeing sick cats in the community and people taking cats from Prince Rupert to Port Edward and Port Edward to Prince Rupert,” said Kruta.
The presentation ended with a motion to hold a public meeting about the animal shelter, and the proponents were tasked with providing a more detailed plan for the structure and the funding.