City would like to see public discussion on potential cat bylaw

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – While there is a dog bylaw in the City of Fort St. John currently, the discussion has been ongoing for years as to whether or not the City should also adopt a cat bylaw.

Mayor Lori Ackerman said at a Council meeting yesterday that this is something that has been wanted by the public for a long time.

“People have been asking for it even before this. A lot of people have asked for the opportunity to have that conversation.”

Councillor Gord Klassen said he could see the City moving towards licensing for cats and he also said he likes the idea of cats being kept on property but also pointed out that pet owners also play a role in a pets behaviours.

Councillor Larry Evans pointed out some concerns about a potential cat bylaw especially the fact that the City would be responsible for having to pick up cats while the SPCA is already struggling to keep up with the amount of kittens and cats that they already have.

Mayor Ackermen said she believes there is enough talk about having a cat bylaw that it would be a good conversation.

She also said that last time this was brought up there wasn’t as much conversation regarding it. She also made sure the point was made that the SPCA needs to be brought in and involved in the conversation as well.

Ackerman said that right now the discussion is simply on Facebook and wondered if there is some kind of community consultation process being designed.

The issue with cats also came from the Animal Control Bylaw consultation phase which saw the concern with cats brought up quite strongly. The City also said that at a public information meeting on September 13, 2016 “it was made clear that those in attendance wanted to re-open the discussion of a cat bylaw with Council.”

The issue with both domestic and feral cats has shown to be frustrating for residents who are faced with the environmental impacts of wandering cats, the City says.

“In an effort to provide a forum for public input, it is recommended that staff conduct an online survey and public information session with Council attendees, to elicit comments from the public. It is further recommended that the SPCA be requested to appear at Council to report on their successes and challenges with respect to the local cat population. Once this is completed, staff will be in a better position to draft the appropriate legislation (if desired) for Council’s deliberation.”