Cats may be added to the Town of Smithers’ animal control and licensing bylaw.
The idea was brought to Council’s attention by Tina Portman who spoke at the October 24th council meeting.
The main arguments presented were around cats hunting small wildlife in the community, causing damage to property, and being a potential health hazard due to excrement cleanup.
During last night’s (Tuesday) meeting, council discussed the idea of amending the bylaw with mixed response.
One concern brought up by Councilor Sam Raven, Frank Wray, Laura Leonard, and Mayor Atrill is the limited enforcement resources the town has with only one bylaw enforcement officer.
Wray added while there might be limited town enforcement capacity, the bylaw can still be enforced.
“All of our bylaws depend on most people following the law. The people that don’t, the laws and bylaws are there,” he said.
Another issue brought up was staff capacity to do research into the bylaw and how the amendment should be added.
“I don’t know if we can put a very ambitious timeline on it. We’ve heard several times that our staff doesn’t have capacity but it’s something we can ask for and it can be done when the capacity’s there,” said Wray.
One solution proposed by a few councilors was volunteer and learning opportunities to offset the workload that would be put onto the bylaw enforcement officers.
Leonard added cats should have their own subsection in the bylaw if its amended.
“The bylaw is very dog specific because of their sometimes-aggressive nature and that they can do harm to humans,” she said.
A vote to pass the proposal to town staff passed with Raven being the lone opposer.
“In theory I support this bylaw. It would be great to do but I don’t see a point in pushing it off to a meeting where we’re just going to decide not to do it later,” Raven said prior to the vote.