Grand Forks and the surrounding area will soon have a new company to enforce an animal control bylaw.
The Commissionaires (a private company) have been hired by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) to provide animal control bylaw enforcement for Areas C (Christina Lake), Grand Forks (city), Area D (rural Grand Forks) and Greenwood.
The Commissionaires, who will begin a one-year contract on Sept. 1, were voted in on July 25 at the RDKB board meeting in Grand Forks. The Commissionaires are a Canadian-wide company primarily offering security services.
“The Commissionaires have given us a very good proposal and they’re a very well respected organization,” said RDKB director of corporate administration Elaine Kumar. “They’re going to get things taken care of in terms of animal control. I’m sure we’ll be very happy with the service they provide.”
Kumar said she thinks the main problems with the animal control bylaw centre around dogs: dogs running wild, dogs chasing deer, vicious dogs, dogs not being licensed.
Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor, who represents the city on the RDKB board, is not pleased with the deal and would like to see the city have more control over animal control.
“I’m concerned, as was our city council, that we have a, call it a revised bylaw, for animal control established before we hire a new contractor; however, that was not the resolution,” he said. “The resolution was that we move ahead with the Commissionaires for a one-year period, but we will still be addressing the revisions to the bylaw and be writing that bylaw. I’m assuming the new draft bylaw will be put out there for public view.”
With over 150 people in attendance at a March 19 public meeting to discuss the first suggested revisions of the animal control bylaw, Taylor said it was clear the topic is very important to the community.
“It was a very well attended meeting,” he said. “It’s quite unusual to see that many people basically spontaneously come together to talk about the animal control bylaw.”
Some of the suggestions brought forward by local groups that Taylor would like to see in the new animal control bylaw mainly address the subject of dog hotels, dog breeding facilities, kennel licensing and other similar issues.
Taylor would like to see Grand Forks be able to write some of its own bylaws for how things are handled within the city boundaries.
“But that becomes secondary to the writing of the regional district bylaw,” he said. “We need that regional district bylaw to ensure that whatever we put in place would fit in nicely and not end up causing dissension between the municipality and the region.”
Taylor said hiring the Commissionaires to enforce the animal control bylaw was a compromise.
“To be fair, the Commissionaires will have a year to show us what they can do here,” he said.
Taylor would ideally like to see a proper humane society in Grand Forks that could deal with the animal control bylaw issues as well as issues such as adoption and control of cats.
“At this point, it’s a shared service under the RDCK (Regional District of Central Kootenay),” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we can’t in the future implement some of our own controls within city limits, but we really need to see what the umbrella bylaw the RDCK is bringing in will cover before we put anything in.”
Kumar said the regional district is looking at all the feedback received from the public and is currently drawing up a final bylaw.
She said the RDCK has a bylaw in place for animal control, but it has been a number of years since it has been updated.
She said the process for changing the bylaw will take some time because the regional district wants to get it right.
The region had been without animal control service since the previous contractors, Boundary Animal Control, terminated their contract in June.