Editorial – Proposal deserved to die

Chris Clegg

No one likes it when Rover barks all night or a cat sits on the back fence and screeches well after midnight.

But to expect local governments to solve all the problems in the world is not realistic.

Case in point. When Big Lakes County decided to ditch a plan to licence cats and dogs at its Sept. 13 meeting, they did the right thing.

Council gave first reading to the proposed bylaw at its July 26 meeting. Administration first proposed an annual licensing fee of $25 per dog and $10 per cat starting in January 2024.

From the first day council entered into this fray, the thinking was all wrong. Rural councils which include hamlets get bogged down because they have the ridiculous attitude you have to treat everyone the same. You do not.

Case in point is speed limits. Speed limits are lower in hamlets than rural roads. The thinking is logical. More people live in a condensed area. More chance of accidents. Lower speed limits.

The same thinking should be used when it comes to controlling cats and dogs.

There is a monumental difference between owning pets on a farm or acreage than in a hamlet. On a farm, Rover or Mittens is usual far away from annoying neighbours. In a hamlet, they usually only have to hop over a fence and it is an all-out attack to annoy the neighbour whether it’s pooping in the flower beds, or leaving a present on the front lawn, in addition to the noise.

Many times, rural dogs and cats are in fact “working animals” so to speak. Cats catch mice and other rodents, and dogs chase away coyotes, bear and deer. By their nature, dogs and cats are working animals.

The same can be argued for hamlet cats and dogs. Cats control rodent and dogs to protect property.

Now, try to properly word a bylaw that defines what a working animal is. Good luck with that!

So why not have a bylaw in the hamlets and one in the rural areas? Besides making too much sense, there is that old school “You have to treat everyone the same” attitude.

Perhaps the reason council came to its senses was the inevitable question of enforcement.

“Has anyone done an analysis of what the bylaw will cost us?” asked Councillor Jeff Chalifoux.

“That is one thing I said all along,” added Councillor Ann Stewart.

“This will cost up a crapload of money,” she added.

Stewart also said the one person on staff could not enforce the bylaw alone and that more people would need to be hired to implement it effectively. No argument there. These things to tend to balloon at the cost of the exasperated taxpayer.

It was when council finally defeated third reading and put this nonsense to bed.

If a proposed bylaw returns to council, deal with it where the problem exists: in the hamlets, not in the rural areas.

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