Castlegar ponders pitch for new SPCA facility

“We’re currently looking at different possibilities and options through them.” ~ Danielle Jackman, Trail SPCA Manager

Castlegar could be the new location for an animal shelter, pending the closure of the Trail SPCA branch and the need for a local partnership for a new one.

To cover the cost of a $1.6 million facility, BC SPCA is looking for a three-way split between the non-profit, the provincial government and local government.

Trail manager Danielle Jackman said BC SPCA is committed to closing the Trail location but just as committed to ensuring continued service to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), which is part of its vast service area.

After a $550,000 facility funding request was turned down by the regional district, Jackman was pleased when Castlegar asked for a presentation earlier this month. She’s expecting a decision from Castlegar soon but couldn’t expand on details.

“We’re currently looking at different possibilities and options through them,” she explained. “Of course we would have loved to have (stayed in) the City of Trail but that doesn’t look like that’s an option at this time.”

Jackman started as a kennel assistant back in 1999, working her way up to branch manager.

She’s seen the 2,500-square-foot facility redesigned many times to fit animal’s needs but ultimately there has never been enough room. Additional kennels are piled up in the back of the facility and without a proper exam room, staff often is giving in-house vaccinations in the office.

“This facility definitely needs a change,” she said. “Obviously it’s not meeting the needs of both the animals and the staff who are working there,” she added. “A new facility is very exciting, and it can only benefit both communities (Trail and Castlegar), no matter which community it ends up in.”

Updating the current facility is not an option. There is likely an electrical problem, a rodent issue and the location itself is not suitable for housing animals because it shares a property with a pollution treatment plant. The smell emanating from the plant is not pleasant for animals or staff, but the real issue is safety, said Jackman.

“Should they (the pollution treatment plant) have a gas leak, evacuation is not possible,” she said.

The washer needs to be replaced, chain link fences in a dog’s kennel needs repair, and the fans are not enough to keep the animals comfortable. The old facility is aesthetically ugly and tells a story of numerous attempts to make the space work with mismatched flooring, spray foam to keep out mice, and electrical outlets on the ceiling, which once worked well for a groomer.

The condition of the 33-year-old facility was described as detrimental to health and welfare of staff, volunteers, and animals when the matter was discussed during an April 30 board meeting in Grand Forks. Craig Daniels, BCSPCA chief executive officer, presented service options then and clarified the organization’s flexibility in seeking a partnership.

The initial proposal centred around the development of a facility on an acreage previously purchased on Old Waneta Road. The organization planned to remain in Trail when it bought a $314,000 parcel of land with early talks of a 3,000-square foot shelter to open as the BC SPCA’s West Kootenay/Boundary Community Animal Centre.

The funding would cover the cost of a facility spacious enough to handle the volume of animals that are brought in for temporary shelter.  The facility houses about 500-600 animals annually and generally sits at capacity of 25 cats and well within the permitted 16 dogs. This doesn’t include the many animals that are fostered out in the community.

Jackman is one of three full-time staff, who are supported by one part timer and four casuals.

The Trail branch is scheduled to close at the end of June 2016, but BC SPCA plans for an uninterrupted physical presence in the West Kootenay.

The RDKB contracts with the SPCA for animal control service on behalf of service participants (City of Trail, Villages of Montrose and Fruitvale, Electoral Areas A and B). This is beyond the regular services that the non-profit provides to its communities of coverage.