PORT ALICE—Council took steps last week to put problem pet owners on a short leash after a series of complaints.
Administrator Madeline McDonald told councillors the Village had received four complaints relating to at least three individual dogs running loose, the issue coming to a head with the injury of a family pet.
Currently, the Village’s bylaws lack the teeth to adequately deal with the problem. Public works employees pick up the animals and return them to their homes, and the Village Office notifies the owner. But with some owners apparently unable or unwilling to rein in their dogs, complaints are on the rise.
“This is an emerging problem,” said McDonald. “We’re seeing the number of complaints increasing and we have no good mechanism to deal with repeat offender dogs.”
The existing dog control bylaw has a provision to designate a “pound keeper” but, without a pound in which to place the animals, there are minimal consequences for dog owners who allow their animals to roam free.
McDonald suggested three amendments to policy to counter the problem.
The first recommendation was for staff to prepare a new dog control bylaw to be brought forward for council’s consideration. “Our animal control bylaw is quite antiquated and needs updated,” explained McDonald.
Secondly, she suggested staff bring forward a municipal ticketing bylaw to allow peace officers to issue fines to repeat offenders. It is hoped the introduction of fines would serve as a deterrent to repeat offenders.
The third recommendation was to pursue a service agreement with the District of Port Hardy, allowing the use of Port Hardy’s pound facilities to house dogs impounded in Port Alice. “We have approached Port Hardy to see if an agreement could be found,” said McDonald. “Port Hardy’s admin staff were willing to explore the options.”
“We can deal with this effectively through through these three recommendations,” said Mayor Jan Allen. “The lack of a bylaw exacerbates the problem. We need concrete action to act as a deterrent.”
Rumble Beach project
McDonald brought councillors up to date on the ongoing Rumble Beach Marina project.
Council heard the breakwater portion of the project was nearing completion, with blasting finished and Western Forest Products helping to source rock. The silt fence erected to contain runoff will remain in place until the breakwater is fully complete.
Requests for proposals to supply concrete floats and to install pilings, piers and floats are set to close this month through BC Bid.
“Everything is on time and moving ahead on schedule,” said McDonald.
If funds remain after completion of the outstanding elements, the Village will turn its attention to other potential upgrades including improved lighting and parking facilities.
Council heard of a pair of new appointments in the Village.
Elizabeth Brackett has taken the position as the Community Centre Coordinator in Port Alice. She will be responsible for running the Community Centre and its programming along with the Sea View Activity Centre.
Brackett began in the position last week, shadowing other Community Centre employees by way of orientation.
McDonald said she was “very excited” by the addition to the staff.
The allocation of the gardening contract required council’s approval, and a motion was put on the table to award the contract to Beth Thompson following the earlier in camera discussion.
The contract is effective Apr. 1- Oct. 31 and council approved the appointment without discussion.
With budget time looming, council approved first reading of Port Alice’s financial plan bylaw.
Bylaw No. 597, the 2013-17 financial plan bylaw, was approved with minimal discussion, Mayor Jan Allen noting, “We’ve all been through this a few times now.”
Councillors passed the motion to approve the first reading, with the information to be subject to a public consultation after the Gazette went to press.
Public works week
The council received correspondence from the Public Works Association of British Columbia seeking the Village’s support for National Public Works Week, may 19-25.
The event, now in its 53rd year, acknowledges the efforts of public works in maintaining communities across Canada.
The council voted to mark the event, using the marquee to promote it.