Edmonton’s animal care centre to get $3.34M next year to fill ‘deep need,’ city council votes

Edmonton’s animal care centre to get .34M next year to fill ‘deep need,’ city council votes

The City of Edmonton Animal Welfare Center is ready to receive a major financial boost to deal with an ever-increasing number of stray, lost or unwanted animals.

The council agreed to increase the budget for the Animal Care and Control Center (ACCC) by $3.34 million next year and $560,000 in 2024.

count. Erin Rutherford proposed an increase in the operating budget Thursday at City Hall during the 2023-26 budget deliberations.

“Demand is increasing,” she says. “The system is stressed.”

The center took over animal care responsibilities under the province’s Animal Welfare Act after the Edmonton Humane Society abandoned the contract in early 2019.

At the time, the society said it did not have the money to meet the province’s new requirements under the law.

Jennifer Flaman, assistant city manager for community services, said the ACCC still works regularly with the Humane Society.

“The sheer volume is overwhelming for both organizations,” Flaman told the council. “While there has been a collaboration, there is only one great need.”

Since taking on the responsibilities of the Animal Welfare Act, the center has been under-resourced, Rutherford noted.

David Jones, manager of the city’s Community Standards and Neighborhoods Department, said the ACCC was set up as a short-term emergency shelter.

The new funding will fill 28 positions to help with extended stays and medical supplies, Jones said.

The positions include frontline animal control and protection officers and kennel attendants, registered veterinary technicians and administrative staff, Jones said.

iguanas, snakes and budgerigars

Funding will also be used to upgrade the facility to handle more and new types of animals they didn’t have before.

The center was built for stray dogs and stray cats, Jones said.

“Now we have iguanas and budgies and all kinds of other animals,” Jones said.

“When a snake comes in, we don’t necessarily have a snake enclosure or the appropriate way to regulate the temperature.”

He said staff have to go out and get de facto devices like heat lamps when tropical animals come to the center.

ACCC’s website notes that more than 6,000 lost pets are found in Edmonton each year.

It features a 2,120-square-foot building that can comfortably accommodate up to 84 cats and 47 dogs, depending on care capacity.

Rutherford noted the additional issue of the pet buying trend of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s also now a problem with pandemic pets, which there’s an increase in [an] Increase in returns of pets because owners have decided they can no longer take care of them,” she said.

The city’s role in question

“We are the only community in Canada that adheres to the Animal Welfare Act,” Jones told the council. “Usually it’s the humanitarian organizations in the city or region.”

Several councilors questioned whether the city should take on the role permanently.

With a five percent property tax hike already forecast from Thursday afternoon, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and councilors Anne Stevenson, Michael Janz, Jo-Anne Wright, Aaron Paquette and Ashley Salvador voted against the change.

Rutherford won the majority of her peers when they voted on the amendment.

“I can’t imagine speaking to many of my residents, the residents of Ward Anirniq, or Edmontonians at large, and saying, ‘Are you okay with animals not being adequately cared for if that means there’s no tax increase are?'”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *