Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

SPCA moving forward with multi-use animal shelter in Surrey

Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun January 27, 2011

The B.C. SPCA has bought a $1.1-million piece of property in South Surrey for a multi-use animal shelter, not far from where the city plans to open a proposed new shelter in Cloverdale.

Craig Daniell, CEO of the animal welfare organization, said the SPCA had hoped to partner with the city on the project but decided to move forward after hearing Surrey wanted to build its own facility in Cloverdale.

The 5.5-acre SPCA property, at 16748 50th Ave., is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve and is zoned for kennels, making it a prime location for what he said he "hopes to be one of the largest and most innovative community animal centres anywhere in B.C."

The SPCA hopes to open the facility in 2012. "The Surrey area is very strategic for the SPCA. It's the busiest shelter in the province and we have a strong mix of rural and urban issues," Daniell said. "The reality is we want to invest in our facilities."

The SPCA now runs its animal adoptions and cruelty investigations and is contracted to care for stray animals at the city-owned Surrey pound on 152nd Street. It started negotiating with the city in 2007 for a potential new facility after the old shelter was deemed unacceptable.

But Daniell said the SPCA was in the final stages of an agreement to construct a jointly operated animal shelter when Surrey pulled out.

The SPCA considered several sites, including a retail site, but was restricted by city bylaws, which states that if animals are kept at a facility overnight, it must be on at least five acres. The Surrey SPCA last year saw 3,692 animals at its shelter.

"The city decided at the last minute that it wanted to pursue its own facility," Daniell said. "Our first choice was a partnership [but] we want to make sure we have a permanent home in Surrey." But Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts maintains she was surprised to hear the SPCA had bought a piece of land and was planning to open a new shelter so close to the proposed city-owned pound.

A meeting would be scheduled with the SPCA, she said, to make sure there wasn't any duplication of services, because it "would be a colossal waste of money.

"I don't think they know what we're doing," Watts said. "It absolutely took me by surprise because I know quite some time ago we were having conversations with them and moving forward with our project. We hadn't got to the part of making that concrete decision."

Watts said the discussions may have hit a stumbling block based on the city's initial model that proposed having kennels and taking in livestock such as horses. The city also envisioned having the homeless work on rehabilitating the animals. "For us it's around animal care and having the best care of animals," she said.

But SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk said the city made it clear as least six months ago that it doesn't want to partner with the SPCA and wouldn't return its calls about the centre. She noted the only duplication for the groups would be animal control and adoptions, saying the SPCA has a different mandate from the city pound such as cruelty investigations.

The proposed SPCA centre would also be expanded to become a community centre and animal shelter combined, she added. While it would focus on the shelter and adoption, the site is large enough to serve as a hub for the province's transfer program for animals seized around B.C. and offer education programs, rehabilitation, training by animal behaviour specialists and an interpretive centre where people can learn about animal cruelty.

Chortyk said the facility could also house some of the larger farm animals, such as abused horses, which are now boarded at other locations. Another idea being floated is to have a farmers market or retail area selling locally produced, humanely raised meat, poultry and dairy products from partners in the SPCA Certified labelling program.

Although the concept is still being visualized, it is based loosely on the Helen Woodward Centre in San Diego, which offers therapeutic riding, a vet hospital and other educational programs. "It'll be a sort of compound ... we're kind of thinking more of a place where people can come for community events," Chortyk said.

Daniell the services would be rolled out over time, along with a capital fundraising campaign to boost donations to run the centre. The SPCA relies on donations to run its programs. He added the BC SPCA will honour its existing contracts with the city to care for animals who come into the municipal shelter under Surrey's animal control bylaws and is open to discussions.

Read more: SPCA Surrey Education & Adoption Centre Opens Doors