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Reader question: Cat bylaw

Read on to find more about what candidates in St. Albert's Oct. 18 municipal election think about a cat bylaw.

Gazette reader Valerie Leclair asks: Other cities have cat bylaws and partner with a group to support this. This has been brought forward many times by constituents and has basically been shut down. What is your stance on a cat bylaw?

All candidates had 60 words to answer. 

Mayoral candidates:

Bob Russell: I support a cat bylaw as it is an issue with a lot of ratepayers. Then use the licence money to pay or shelter costs of stray cats until they can be returned to owners or adopted.

David Letourneau: I believe that we should have an inclusive responsible pet ownership bylaw. After reviewing our current bylaw, I do believe there is a lot of room for improvement.  

Cathy Heron: I have met with many of the advocates for future cat supports. I believe we need to provide some operational dollars to the Edmonton Humane Society so they will accept lost and stray cats found in St. Albert.

Angela Wood: A bylaw is one way to approach this, however there are increased costs and animal safety associated with having this type of a bylaw. Further discussions should be had in this area, but would require a closer look at the bylaw in practice and if it is the best option for our community. I would also explore educational opportunities surrounding responsible pet ownership. 

Council candidates:

Rachel Jones: It’s a good idea to look at establishing a cat bylaw. If this is an issue in our city, then we should address it and flesh out regulation about what should be done. While I don’t have a lot of knowledge on this topic, I think that stray cats deserve our care and attention, and that it’s our responsibility. 

Ross Guffei: I understand that attempts have been made in the past to pass a cat bylaw. None of those were successful. I guess that before I form an opinion regarding a cat bylaw, I need to determine the justification for it. Is it to keep cats from running free? Is it to just generate additional revenue for the city? Or is it to protect the cat population in St. Albert? My answer will depend on the purpose.

Joseph Trapani: Yes on a bylaw. Not only for cats but all animals that are self-mobile. I own two cats and they both have chip in them. Do you care about your dog? Why aren’t you caring about your cat? Most dogs know their way back home, cats not at much.

Shelley Biermanski: I am in favour of the safest solution for protecting all people's pets. 

Ken MacKay: I would like to have this as an option for dealing humanely with our nuisance and roaming cat problems; however, administration has always recommended against this option due to the intensive labour and ongoing costs for caring for apprehended animals. If a third party was willing to take on these challenges, I would be open to supporting a cat bylaw. 

Isadore Stoyko: You can bring in a cat bylaw, but with that you need a facility and some way to enforce it. That is sometimes a thorny subject. We have cats and they have been leashed when they were outside in our backyard. So, if there was a partnership with someone, I would support it.

Kevan Jess: If a viable, willing partner was found, and licensing offset a significant portion of the cost, I would be willing to consider a cat bylaw. Experiences of other municipalities suggest enforcement is difficult and labour intensive but combined with a spay/neuter requirement for any unclaimed animals up for adoption it could have positive long-term benefits. 

Gilbert Cantin: The lost or abandoned cats picked up by St. Albertans have nowhere to go because there is no bylaw about them and mainly no agreements on where to bring them and they are left as prey for coyotes. A bylaw would rectify that at a minimal cost.

Sheena Hughes: The city has explored the concept of a cat bylaw several times in the past decade, with the results showing that it will require tax increases to administer it, and ironically would result in euthanizing more cats when owners chose to replace the cats instead of paying fines. Any bylaw needs to be carefully crafted, with unintended consequences considered.

Mike Killick: Yes. This should be fairly straightforward to adopt what has worked in other cities. This will need the support of volunteer groups. I support a bylaw that keeps cats under the control of their owners, on their owners' property and safe from harm. I do not support any bylaw that includes cat traps for "stray" cats. 

Wes Brodhead: The cat bylaw has been considered several times in the last number of years. The community has always balked at the $250,000-$300,000 annual cost.

Natalie Joly: A locally-operated cat rescue non-profit, supported by the city, would be ideal. However, I haven't heard interest from residents to make this an independent municipal service. I suspect this is because, based on a 2019 report, costs to implement a bylaw are $150,000-$400,000 per year in addition to capital costs, and would likely result in high euthanasia rates.

Wally Popik: Yes. I believe we need to have a cat bylaw. I don't see a difference between cats and dogs.

Louis Sobolewski: It doesn't matter to me if we have a cat bylaw or if we don't have one. I will ask the residents of St. Albert if they want one. If they want a cat bylaw then they will get one. 

Leonard Wilkins: I think a cat bylaw is long overdue. I understand that cats are hard to keep in your own yard and do occasionally get out. However, many people are fed up with cat poop in children’s sandboxes, playground sand, and no one likes feral cats killing off birds. Responsible pet owners do their best to keep their cats indoors. Coyotes eat the cats that get out.

Jennifer Cote: I believe a bylaw may have some impact if we have resources to enforce it. Practically speaking, I’m not sure how realistic it is to keep cats from roaming outside aside from requiring them to be tethered. Ultimately, we need to foster responsible pet ownership in our community so that this isn't an ongoing issue. 

Donna Kawahara: As an animal rescue volunteer and a pet owner, I believe we need to revisit the cat bylaw and find a way to have this come to fruition. Partnering with shelters or rescues may open opportunities, with licensing of cats to support the financial aspect. It is important to keep our furry residents safe as well.

Sandy Clark: Unless the city had the ability to deal with lost and stray cats without an increase to taxes, I do not believe I would be prepared to look at this at this time. 

Shawn LeMay: I have to support the concept here, and commit to exploring this further. I’ve been approached about this a few times now, and I understand our local veterinarians are advocating for this as well. That said, we also need to find a way of being more vigilant about off-leash dogs where not permitted. We are hearing of too many instances where people are being bit along our trails by off-leash dogs.

Mike Ferguson: Yes. I see dog poop absolutely everywhere, but if you want another unenforced bylaw, I will vote yes. It is my job to pass bylaws.

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