Council endorses all cats indoors and sterilized law in principle

Bylaw Division Manager Chris Rogers gets ready for a city council meeting on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. City council has endorsed a plan for a future bylaw which will include a subsidy program and sterilization plan for cats within city limits. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – While some councillors conceded that enforcement may be tough, city council has largely endorsed a future cat control bylaw.

The public gallery was packed with feline supporters as Chief Building Official and Bylaw Division Manager Chris Rogers outlined the plan.

The short answer: all cats would have to be indoors, all cats would have to be de-sexed within five years, cats would be licenced with tags and feeding feral cats equals owning them.

Rogers says the law is a “two-pronged” approach: having subsidies to help sterilize the cat population while also “cutting off supply” of the feral or so-called “community cats.”

The plan would cost $40,000 in its first year – a line item that would go into the 2020 budget when the cat control bylaw is likely to be in effect once it’s passed.

Coun. Eric Bergeron was concerned whether the municipality had the legal authority to tell people to sterilize their animals. Rogers said their legal opinion suggests, yes, it’s allowed.

Coun. Todd Bennett questioned whether five years might be too long. Rogers said there are concerns about bottlenecks in the system to have pets spayed or neutered and whether Cornwallites would have the financial means to do it on a shorter timeline.

Coun. Carilyne Hebert said she largely supported the plan but there may be some debate over some parts of the proposed law, such as feeding equals ownership. “I’m really happy with what I’m seeing here.”

Coun. Justin Towndale added that it was nice to see in the council report that other communities have subsidies in place, showing that “it’s not just a Cornwall problem,” considering the unpopular national media attention Cornwall has received for months.

The bylaw will be coming back to a future council meeting to pass and put into effect.