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Council directs staff to research banning roaming cats

Public input prompts review of animal control bylaw
File photo of a cat.

Smithers council is making some moves to deal with roaming felines in the community.

Last month, Smithers resident Tina Portman spoke at the town council meeting on Oct. 24, asking for an amendment to the animal control and licencing bylaw to also include cats.

She requested the town ban pet cats running at large because cats can destroy wildlife, damage property and create human and safety risks.

At its Nov. 14 meeting, council decided that was a good idea and decided to bring it up at the next strategic priorities meeting so staff can do more research and the bylaw can be reworked, if need be.

Before the motion was made, two residents spoke during the public comment period in favour of including cats in the animal control bylaw.

“They are using our gardens as litter boxes and fence posts as scratching posts,” said Debbie Wellwood, adding cats are a nuisance. She said has figured how to coexist with wildlife but hasn’t figured out how to live with cats and keep them out of her yard.

Annette Ingham also spoke in favour of banning roaming cats because she has been dealing with a cat issue in her yard for several years.

She has found dead birds in her yard, a broken water fountain and has had to take care of an orphan baby squirrel. She said she knows the culprit is a cat and has tried to deal with it herself. She added that she has worked hard to have a beautiful yard to enjoy and it is disheartening to have cats damage it.

Councillor Sam Raven worried about staff capacity and the lone bylaw officer keeping up with the complaints.

However, Councillor Frank Wray said that isn’t a reason not amend the bylaw.

“Our bylaws depend on people following the law and they can be enforced if they need to be,” he said. “It sends a message, people do not enjoy cats destroying property.”

Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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