June 18th, 2024

Last Chance Cat Ranch didn’t deserve to be skewered at policy committee meeting

By Letter to the Editor on May 29, 2021.

Editor: I watched with complete disgust the lynch mob called the Community Safety Standing Policy Committee made up of councillors Hyggen, Mauro, Parker, Campbell and a guest appearance by Carlson. I watched their meeting this week as they completely skewered one of our beloved animal rescues, The Last Chance Cat Ranch.
A property owner brought forth personal issues littered with false information in a bid to get the rescue removed or shut down. His claims of over 100 cats living in the house is completely false (they have about one-third of that between the main house and retrofitted garage). The bylaw officer strongly refuted his claims of deplorable and uninhabitable conditions, and he also stated animal welfare had been through and all cats were being cared for in direct opposition to what the neighbour claimed. The neighbour went on to call the rescue a spectacle, the founder “mental”, and the LCCR Facebook site where they do their fundraising, awareness, showcase adoptions, bake sales, etc. “nothing more than a pity story.”
Yet these council members bent over backwards to placate him and brainstormed ideas about bylaws, health code violations, zoning issues, etc. that might help him oust the rescue. They agreed to extra summer meetings and loopholes to rush this to present at the next city council meeting. No one felt the need to include The Cat Ranch in any of these consultations or verify any of the false information the property owner had provided.
Now consider this – the Last Chance Cat Ranch has been at that location for years – long before the neighbour moved in in 2016. The only thing that seems to have changed since then is they added some enclosed outdoor “catio” space in their backyard.
The Last Chance Cat Ranch has been a godsend to this community. They have done nothing but improve our city by taking unwanted cats off the street, from owners who have abandoned them, and pets of elderly people who have passed.
They receive vet care, nourishment, shelter and then are transitioned to foster homes or put up for adoption. The unpaid volunteers work tirelessly to make all this happen and there is a legion of supporters behind them.
The founder, Elizabeth Ginn, dedicated her life and her savings to doing what is decent and noble for this community. She has since stepped back from her incredibly stressful role to fight her own battles with terminal cancer.
She should have received accolades and awards from this community for her dedication and instead you have this pack of hyenas – I mean councillors – pouncing at the chance to shut down her life’s work. You should be utterly ashamed of yourselves and I am completely embarrassed of my city and especially those involved with this completely biased debacle.
Virginia Kuz

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thank you for a great letter that provides more insight into the wonderful service that is the cat ranch. what an ignoramus that found nothing to complain about. get a life. do some good with it, instead of picking on good people.

Dennis Bremner

I guess what I find interesting about the “outrage” is it appears some miss the point. I have no idea who the complainant is but no one seems to be addressing what I perceive to be the real issue here.
Who thinks its a great idea that in a Residential Neighborhood you could have a a dedicated Cat business operating (charitable or not)? If you lived in your home would you “like” a Cat Business next door? If a cat facility is acceptable then why not Dogs? Are there bylaws that prevent other charitable animal shelters in Residential Areas? I am sure there are! So why is there an exception for Cats, is this part of the “dogs should be leashed and Cats shall run free”, thing some have promoted? Are there bylaws that purposely exclude Cats from the list of animals you cannot have in a Residential Neighborhood? If someone decided to have a Rat Ranch, I am sure Rats are not allowed, so what makes a Cat special? Cat lovers? What about Pet Rat Lovers?
So it appears that if you are kind to Cats, you can operate on a residential street with no limits to the number of cats you can be “kind too”? I am disregarding the other complaints made by the accuser because I am totally unaware of the situations he describes or whether true or not. I am sure there are embellishments on both sides of the discussion.
But, what’s a Cat facility doing in a Residential Neighborhood? I find there is a huge inconsistency in this City of what is allowed and what is not in Residential Neighborhoods.

” Its like we love to create a mish mash of zones/zoning” for a specific residential area as if “the master plan is always to create an irritant to those wishing to enjoy their homes”!

Simple question, “why do we keep on doing it to ourselves”? Why is a business (Non Profits are businesses) not in a business area ie Commercial Zoning? There appears to be a lack of common sense here and far too many people sit back and say “Not my problem, not near me, so why should I care”. Until of course the business moves and it is next to you and then you do care? Strange, very very strange!

I am not siding with any side here, because quite honestly one has to wonder how a permit was issued, how did that happen, that’s the real question! What “Professor of all things good at City Hall” said what a swell idea for a residential neighborhood”, lets change the zoning from R1,2,3 to R1,2,3,Cat?

Last edited 3 years ago by Dennis Bremner

dennis, on this i feel you are barking, meowing, up the wrong tree. what refers to itself as a ranch is hardly such: the cats are contained and and controlled, and unlike dogs, they do not make noise. they are not free to run about anywhere except in the house and in an outdoor contained area. they affect no other properties. what you refer to as a business is hardly such: there are no consumers coming and going to purchase things, nor to leave behind litter, such as what would disturb people that live too close to fast food and convenience store outlets; there is no added traffic. there is nothing going on that would disrupt the usual bucolic living of life in lethbridge.
of course, there are businesses that are “home” based that might disrupt life, but the last chance cat ranch is not one of them. moreover, it is a place of compassion in action – how is it that people would pick a fight with good action? there is no ceo raking in a massive living off the misery of cats in need – and pretty much each one of those creatures looked after is due to the lack of human heart. we need people that pick after others, because too many of said others are underdeveloped and gross. given a choice, i would prefer as many “cat ranches” as it would take to replace the many homes that have dogs, only to tie them in the yard to bark year round and freeze in winter. moreover, i would prefer that if people would have a cat – any pet – they would know what they are in for, and what it takes to provide adequate love and care, including spay/neuter.
perhaps the person that brought forth the complaint is simply a cat hater, or a good service provider hater, or a good deed hater. what is next – picking a fight with homes/businesses that provide shelter as foster parents and assisted living facilities…each of which exist in residential areas?

Dennis Bremner

I guess I tend to look beyond the short term issues. Let me give example. City gives a permit to the Cat Hotel, they operate in a Residential Neighborhood. It would be logical to assume at some time in the future the home might come for sale.
So, the permit would allow Cats that do not exceed X, whatever the number is. After 10/20 years, the house is sold. Does the owner have to declare that the property was used to house X Cats on a daily basis or was a licensed Cat refuge for 20 years? Or would that be against the present owners human rights?
We compel people to declare Grow Houses etc. So was the original Bylaw allowing for a Cat Hotel in a “Residential Community, in a Residential Home” got sufficient caveats on it, or is it buyer beware? My concern is only based on how it got permits and did the Permit have some riders to protect others who would believe they are buying a normal home later on its life. (30 cats having 1 accident each over one month X 30 years) is a lot of urine. Capiche?
I have no other opinion on right vs wrong, good vs bad etc. I have no opinion on the argument just the “concept of Residential Zoning”. I tend to look at things in a much longer time frame. Hence my involvement in Drug Issues, make one small mistake now can end up being a big mistake later for someone.
Would you want a Permit that requires the permit holder to divulge the homes use before buying? Or have you not thought this far ahead biff?
If the new home owner decides to sue (we will say its you), whom do you sue biff? If the city did not make it compulsory for the previous homeowner to divulge its use, then you can’t sue the old home owner, so guess who pays? You or the city? I have my guess, can you afford that kind of error in your life?
This type of issue would not arise if it was not in a Residential zoned area. Hence my comments. Its like we like to create problems that could lead to issues later, the simple question continues to be unanswered, why?
Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with the good work they do!

Last edited 3 years ago by Dennis Bremner

you bring up a worthy concern, although, i do think this is what the complaint is about. i agree with you – the buyer should have full disclosure. if ever a buyer was misled or not provided the full set of issues on a home, i would expect the realtor and the seller should each be liable. that would be the ideal, anyway.

Dennis Bremner

Unfortunately that is not how the law works. If you are not compelled by law to state past use, you do not have too. ie, Urea-Formaldahyde foam. Until a law was created, you did not have to divulge. Many people ended up spending a small fortune after buying a home with the foam and not knowing it. If its not required by law, then it is an elective as to whether it is released by either the realtor or the owner. So unless you know the question to ask, its buyer beware! For many years, you did not have to release a house was a closed grow op either, it took a law to change it. I would be shocked if there is any law on the books for an animal house, so Joe Public who believes he/she is buying a normal house wears this in the future and whom allowed it? The City ! And, the answer to the question Why, continues to go unanswered!
Again biff, I am not addressing the complaint, never intended too, I am addressing Zoning, Bylaws, and Residential Neighborhoods and its “interpretive uses laws”. Is this a proper use of a Residential home Yes/No, that is the Only thing I am addressing here. I say no because of the reasons above. Why? I suspect, some future buyer will get shafted and that’s not how “Residential should work” nor should the City create the ability for it to work that way, period.
I think I am barking, meowing, up the right tree, its just not a “popular thing to do because of the furry cuddly factor” but I am not into “popular”, I am into drawing attention to issues NOT addressed by the City that can cost taxpayers and families or in this case a future family the possibility of not enjoying their “new” home.

Last edited 3 years ago by Dennis Bremner