Turner Valley council changed its animal control bylaw, removing the requirement for cat licensing and trapping on July 20.
By a 5-2 vote, the change aligns the bylaw with the Town of Black Diamond's animal control bylaw.
“This (bylaw) wasn’t a priority, until we lost our animal control officer and had to make decisions on that,” said deputy mayor Cindy Holladay.
Staff shortages and difficulties housing cats are two of the reasons council made the decision, and there are no plans to hire a new animal control officer with the amalgamation between Black Diamond and Turner Valley coming in about five months.
Turner Valley received five comments, all from people in favour of keeping something to enforce cats, but the majority of council felt the current bylaw isn’t working.
“It’s not that I have not listened to the public, I have, but I don’t think this bylaw is currently doing what they’re hoping it would do,” Holladay said in an interview.
“We did hear loud and clear that people have problems with neighbours' cats being let out, (but) those aren't the ones that we’re picking up though, because they get let out and they go back home.”
Holladay also said it is likely many cat owners are not licensing their cats, and that a different solution should be found. After the vote, council gave direction for the new council to look at a cat trespassing rule.
“The trespassing bylaw’s the way to go, but it’s not the time to figure it out right now,” said Holladay, adding the new community will have to pass a new animal control bylaw regardless.
An average of 38 per cent of households per municipality in Canada have a cat, she said, and in Turner Valley, only about 10 per cent of households have cat licences.
"We have 122 licensed cats in Turner Valley,” she said.
“If we’re under 10 per cent of our households licensing, our licensing is not working.”
During the meeting, council discussed deferring a decision, but in the end decided to approve the changes.
Before the vote, Mayor Barry Crane said the cat licensing requirement should stay for now, to be looked at again in 2023.
“It’s a lot of work to put (cats) back in (the bylaw) later.” he said.
Crane mentioned several times that he heard the public response in favour of keeping the licensing bylaw for cats, but in the end voted for its removal, adding that a new solution would need to be looked at in the new year.