Councillors scratch surface of cat control law

Cornwall Bylaw Enforcement Supervisor Christopher Rogers, right, answers a question of Coun. Bernadette Clement, left, during a discussion on a proposed bylaw to control wild cats on Monday, May 14, 2018. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – City councillors have weighed in on a future law on cat control but some have problems with the first draft.

Council spent roughly 20 minutes Monday night providing feedback on an “interim report” to the head of the city’s bylaw department, Christopher Rogers.

Coun. Justin Towndale has some trouble with tagging people who feed stray cats as owners with all the responsibilities.

“My neighbour feeds a couple of feral cats but they’re not his responsibility. He does it because he’s a nice guy. I don’t think it’s right that he’s responsible for neutering those cats,” Towndale said.

Rogers says that provision was borrowed from another municipality, likely Peterborough or Whitby.

Towndale believes there are two different cats – indoor cats and outdoor cats – and putting cats on leashes outdoors “doesn’t make sense to me.” Rogers said the OSCPA actually encourages that part of the proposed bylaw, something Towndale found surprising.

The councillor believes it would be more productive to provide an incentive, such as low cost sterilization, to encourage people to bring in feral cats.

Coun. Maurice Dupelle said the bylaw is “a good start” but encouraged council to keep an open mind on a future law.

The proposed bylaw will be going out to the public for feedback this summer.

The city is also applying for a $50,000 grant to fund a subsidized spay and neuter program in the community. Rogers says there is no money in the budget this year and would likely be looked at in the 2019 budget.

Coun. Bernadette Clement wanted to know what was going to happen this summer before the bylaw is passed.

Rogers says a one day trapping and sterilization of wild cats could be possible in conjunction with the SPCA, but “I need council to fund that.” He estimates it would cost city taxpayers around $4,000 to sterilize 40 feral cats.

Highlighting the problem, the OSPCA says around a third of all Ontario cats turned into their shelters come to the Cornwall branch.

“In the end, it’s going to cost the city some money,” Coun. Denis Carr. “But I don’t think we have a choice. This is a health issue.”