January 16, 2013 - 1:39 PM
It may be a new year, but it's the same issues at city hall.
Kamloops city council resumed regular meetings yesterday, and the first item on the agenda for 2013 - an appeal for a declined dog variance application.
Kamloops resident, Tasha Moen, pled her case to council yesterday hoping to obtain a third dog. Council denied her application in December in correspondence with the Dog Responsibility and Control By-law No. 34-42, limiting Kamloops households to two dogs.
She appealed the decision yesterday in council chambers.
She told council that her dogs are important for her safety due to the fact that she is an avid, year-round hiker. She said her Lab/Shepherd Cross, Ti Loup, is nearly nine years old and she would like another companion dog to accompany her and Charlie, her one and a half year old Border Collie/St. Bernard Cross, while hiking.
She showed council several photos of hikes she has completed with her dogs throughout the province.
"Three or four times a week I take my dogs for a hike in the hills," she said.
Moen's story rekindled the ongoing bylaw debate that has kept councillors busy since a decision in 2011 to proactively enforce the bylaw through license renewals. Kamloops dog owners wishing to have more than two dogs must apply for the variance and pay a fee to state their case to council. Prior to this change, the bylaw was enforced on a complaint basis.
Coun. Nelly Dever made a motion to send out a notice of intent to neighbours regarding Moen's appeal.
"I can empathize with your situation," she said.
"I think it's important that we put the notice of intent forward."
A notice of intent allows neighbours the opportunity to voice their opinions.
"I don't know if there will be an impact in the neighbourhood or not," said Mayor Peter Milobar, who supported the motion.
"That doesn't mean I am voting for three dogs. I want to hear what the neighbourhood has to say. I don't view this as a vote 'Yes'. Today means yes to a vote in a few weeks."
Coun. Nancy Bepple would not support the motion arguing that variances were intended for people who moved to Kamloops, for newly blended families or for children who moved home, etc.
"There's many reasons people have more dogs, but from my perspective, if we go that route, then I think we should change the bylaw," she said.
Coun. Pat Wallace agreed.
"I know that Miss Moen does more for her dogs than most people do for their children," she said. "She's the first in 2013. She won't be the last this year, and either we have a bylaw or we don't."
"Either we say what we mean and we mean what we say or we get rid of the bylaw."
Coun. Ken Christian said the bylaw is public policy and dictates council's decisions.
"I think we dig ourselves deeper and deeper into a hole," he said. "It sends mixed messages to the public."
The motion passed with Mayor Milobar and councillors Marg Spina, Tina Lange, Arjun Singh, Donovan Cavers and Dever voting in favour, while councillors Bepple, Wallace and Christian opposed.
Councillors showed frustration over the seeming dejavu regarding the matter.
"The bylaw to keep more than two dogs is not brand new," said Mayor Milobar.
"What we changed as a council was how people register to keep more than two dogs."
He said that previously there was no mechanism for input regarding each case and that council would grant variances and later find out neighbours didn't approve.
"We've changed the procedure to highlight what was happening already in the public," he said.
Milobar assured council that the issue will end. He said his hunch is that there will be a continued influx of dog variance applications until dogs begin passing away. He said there are files created on each variance and second requests by residents for three dogs would likely be declined.
"It's unfortunate it's always dogs right now, but two years ago it was always basement suites."
— Jessica Wallace
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013