Bigger and better facility for Brant County SPCA

Robin Kuchma BCSPCAPlans to relocate the Brant County SPCA to a larger and more up-to-date facility to meet today’s needs and allow for future growth are underway.

Brantford city council showed support for the project by offering both space and money at Monday’s meeting.

Part of the city’s agreement with the SPCA includes compiling a list of potential five-acre sites for the facility along with providing a one-time grant to cover a minimum of 10 per cent of the total project cost up to $600,000.

The list of potential sites for the SPCA’s new location will be presented to councillors in September. The grant will be taken from the city’s casino fund.

“SPCAs are coming out of the shadows,” mayor Chris Friel told committee of the whole when the item was first discussed on Aug. 11. “They’re no longer hiding behind the dump. They’re modern, terrific looking facilities, and they’re providing incredible service to the community, and they need to be treated with a certain amount of respect.”

Vice chair of the Brant County SPCA board Robin McNaughton told city council about the state of the 2,500-square-foot facility built in 1969 that no longer meets their needs on Monday.

The Mohawk Street shelter was designed to serve a community of 50,000 and focused on the housing of dogs. Brantford’s population has now grown to close to 100,000, and the shelter now sees animals including cats, dogs, rabbits, degus, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds and snakes.

Some challenges with the current facility include a difficulty in fixing the drainage in cages because of underground piping, asbestos in the building, no ventilation or air conditioning in the building, insufficient heating in some of the rooms, not enough driveway space, an inaccessible building and inadequate kitchen and washroom facilities for existing staff and volunteers.

Because of the shelter’s location next to the city’s landfill and composting site, odours, insects, garbage and rodent control are also problems.

When city councillors were presented with the idea to support the SPCA at committee of the whole on Aug. 11, some had reservations about the facility being moved to the originally proposed Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield site.

“I find this premature,” Ward 5 Coun. Marguerite Ceschi-Smith told councillors at the time. “We haven’t even gone to the community yet to find out what they would like (on the land).”

Brant County SPCA executive director Robin Kuchma told council Monday that they’re flexible with the location as long as the parcel of land is close to five acres in size and is located within Brantford.

“As long as we can be good neighbours to wherever we are,” she added.

Kate McDonald, chief executive officer for the Ontario SPCA told council that the ideal location will allow the Brant County SPCA to reach Brantford, the County of Brant and Six Nations of the Grand River.

While Toronto’s SPCA is located right downtown, in Newmarket its on the outskirts, she said.

“It depends on your community,” McDonald added.

Kuchma said the SPCA has $1 million set aside for the project in a building fund, but they will kick off their fundraising campaign for the project once the land is secured. Timing of the project will depend on the funding available, Kuchma said.

With the new space, the SPCA plans to grow its initiatives and programs to include a trap-neuter-return program, a Pets for Life program and a low-cost spay and neuter program.

Kuchma said she was “ecstatic” after Monday’s meeting because acquiring a better facility was something she had been working on since coming to the SPCA 12 years ago.

Currently there are five small rooms for cats at the shelter with a total of 42 cages. In the spring and summer months, the SPCA’s intake can average 300 cats a month. There are two rooms for dogs, which house six large kennels and 10 small kennels in each.

In 2013, close to 2,200 cats were brought into the shelter – more than 1,800 of which were abandoned, feral or stray cats from the community. Close to 600 dogs were brought into the shelter with more than half having been picked up by officers or brought in by members of the public in the same year.

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