June 19th, 2024

Last Chance Cat Ranch doesn’t deserve the way it’s being treated


By Lethbridge Herald on March 12, 2022.

Editor:

Our city has been beset with very serious issues like escalating crime, an opioid epidemic, homelessness, lack of healthcare, and serious financial strains. 

Yet somehow members of our city council and the City of Lethbridge have decided to wield untold man hours and our city’s resources to satisfy the complaints of one single resident against his neighbour. 

That neighbour is the Last Chance Cat Ranch which takes injured, abandoned, and homeless cats off our streets, get them vet care, and finds them new homes.

Our city has now made the shameful, horrendous decision to issue the LCCR a stop order and cripple them with severe restrictions. 

Incredulously, after 18 years at the same location, the city has suddenly deemed that they are violating the land use bylaws. 

They have one year to vacate their own premises. Infinity worse, they have been slammed with severe restrictions which make it nearly impossible for them to operate and raise funds for another location. 

They are restricted to using only two volunteers per day when they need at minimum six, food may only be delivered once every seven days, they may not advertise or refer to the premises on their social media or website and they must not emit any odours. 

They are under threat of a $10,000 fine if they break any of these conditions. By restricting care and food, the city is literally endangering the lives of already vulnerable animals and punishing the volunteers and supporters who have worked so hard to improve our community.

 For almost two decades the LCCR has taken pressure off the animal shelter and financed what the city should have. 

Last spring the Community Safety Standing Committee of then councillors Hyggen, Parker, Mauro, Campbell, and Carlson invited a neighbour with multiple complaints about the LCCR to present his case to them. The LCCR was not informed of or invited to respond to the many personal issues lodged by the resident. 

The committee brought in heads of regulatory services, bylaw offices, the City manager, and community services all to weigh in and help find avenues to assist the neighbour. 

They discussed cat bylaws, rezoning, land use bylaws, unsightly premises orders, AHS investigations, and ultimately found at the time there was nothing to go after them for. 

The meeting is on public record and can be viewed here. https://youtu.be/ggKi9MU84xM

There will be an appeal of these measures on March 31. I believe our mayor, city council, and city officials have made an egregious error on how they have handled this entire situation.

 Both parties should have been included in a mediation to find a solution.

 Private citizens with an axe to grind should not be able to have city councillors take these type of drastic measures on their behalf. 

The city has known about the LCCR for many, many years and not required them to apply for rezoning in the past. 

Why are they not being grandfathered? I encourage the city to find a more positive solution for both parties and our community. 

If a fair and equitable inquiry finds that the LCCR would be more suitable relocated they should be given every assistance, physically and financially, by the city to do so.

Virginia Kuz

Lethbridge

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yqlresident

Just because others didn’t do public presentations doesn’t mean only one person complained and at this point, it seems unlikely the city didn’t get other complaints. Regardless, the cat ranch never was allowed in this location so they should be thankful for the time they did have. Or would you just rather wait for another fire to happen?
Rationale people are looking at this wondering why it took this long to get them out when the city clearly doesn’t want them there. Everyone else is trying to point fingers.

Last edited 2 years ago by yqlresident
JustObserving

The motives of those running the LCCR are noble. I understand the home in question is unoccupied but for drop in volunteers and cats meaning it has lost its character as a residence within a residential zoning community. Turning a blind eye to an illegal operation does not make it legal nor does it create an obligation to remain blind in perpetuity.
The LCCR has not been shut down, the building has not been condemned as an eye sore property or under Public Health Act regs. Re-locate, fund raise, sell the house to raise funds, do what you need to do to further a worthy endeavour but DO NOT expect the taxpayers to bail you out.

I don’t hold out much hope for you on Appeal at the Municipal level and the deep pockets needed to pursue the admin fairness issue through the Courts might be better spent on a new more appropriate locale. You’ve had a good run on borrowed time.

yqlresident

Exactly. I say grow up to Virginia Kuz and the rest of the supporters who are trying to bully someone because the cat ranch was finally called out for breaking the law. Kudos to the supporters handling the situation properly.

pursuit diver

Council didn’t pass new laws to shut down this Cat Ranch or pass a resolution. This came from people employed by the City to enforce laws made to protect the public and resolve issues that impact them and take away their peaceful enjoyment of their own property!
Sad that you are so oblivious to your good neighboursssss being negatively impacted!
Many citizens would do the very same thing, in fact you would already be gone in some neighbourhoods!
You have overgrown your operation and you should realize this and show some respect for your fellow citizens!

biff

thank you for an insightful and compassionate letter. i m certain that, like me, there are many that were not aware of this stupid and heartless set of actions by the city. how on earth is the property really much of an impediment and imposition to anyone? what kind of an utter a-hole would go to such lengths to cause so much misery? and, why would the city respond in like fashion? i
has there been a go fund me set up to help with a new location? moreover, given the numerous agencies in town that devote their hearts to animal welfare, is there not some way they can better move forward together? i get that there are some ideological differences – such as some that believe every cat must be saved despite the enormous costs incurred. indeed, to spend several thousands on one cat, rather than mercifully put it down, ends up sucking away resources and care for numerous others. and there are so very many that are not being accommodated.
the homeless cat issue in lethbridge is enormous. it is, however, much less a cat issue than it is a human issue. we have too many callous and nasty and and ignorant and indifferent people that have compounded the issues – they trap and release, such that cats with homes become homeless; they trap and kill and hurt…. and all this comes with city’s blessing, as the city provides the cages and looks the other way. people take on pets but are unwilling to follow through, such as with spay/neuter, and adequate care. they move away and leave their cats behind. always someone else’s problem, it seems.
the agencies must start to work together, to pool resources and knowledge. perhaps a shared property on the outskirts of town might wokr best, there would be more space to be had, and less overhead, relative to the premium it associated with being in the city.
regardless, nasty, sick people like the idiot that has gone out of their way to compound misery in our community are hardly a part of the solution.

yqlresident

Again, calling someone an idiot doesn’t do yourself favours after typing paragraphs pretending to be diplomatic. The cat ranch was breaking the law and you can tell how bad of neighbours they must be just from there reaction to this situation.

biff

never pretended to be diplomatic. people that have such cold hearts are a waste. given all the neglected properties owned by derelict landlords, that actually affect homeowners, one might have found a more useful outlet. instead, a bully is always a bully. picking a fight with people that have hearts. your behaviour is gross.

yqlresident

I agree. A group this size that’s breaking the law and taking this much time to bully people who aren’t breaking the law is quite pathetic if you ask me. Hopefully they find a more useful outlet for that energy.

Jersey44

It’s not complicated. An operation like this shouldn’t be in a residential area. I wouldn’t live near it. I’d be the first to be complaining to the city if someone started this near me. It’s a good thing, but to run it out of a house is ridiculous. It should have been shut down immediately.

biff

how, exactly, would this affect you?

yqlresident

How much parking do they have in comparison to all the volunteers that come and go each day? Imagine the noise. The house obviously smells. They already had a fire and killed a bunch of cats. Etc.

Please quit trying to justify this location. It doesn’t belong in a residential location and if you think it does try having this size of operation ran out of your house while living in it at the same time.

Last edited 2 years ago by yqlresident
biff

dems be some serious issues you bring up. parking – wow! imagine a couple of cars temporarily parked there now and again…my god. the noise?! haha! pathetic. the home smells?- you have been inside? assuming it does smell, it surely does not waft about the neighbourhood, not like the fetid feedlots that surround us, and not like the blasts of sewage we get. you would actually bring up the fire? fires are accidents that can happen in any house – that was a tragedy and an accident. you would try and use that to justify your petty, nasty position? you and ilk hide behind man-made laws to justify your heartless, wicked hater position. you are bullies that are picking a fight with people that bring us compassion and decency pretty low, indeed. i would take that house as my neighbour over any of the too many derelict properties and junkyards that litter our city and make us look like a low end, redneck backwash

TonyPargeter

Must say I agree with you on this biff. Seems something must be left out here; I don’t get it either. At least these cats are kept inside, where I wish all cats would be kept instead of roaming free and killing birds, something they do in large numbers apparently. I’d much rather have the native birds thanks. Not to mention defecating in people’s bacjyards, which they enter easily along the fences, something dogs can’t do. And personally I really hate the sound of cats fighting in the middle of the night outside my bedroom window as well; the sounds they make are the stuff of nightmares. Why isn’t there just a bylaw against letting your cat out to roam at will?

biff

you raise important concerns. the fighting at night is because there are still so many uneducated fools that think it is right to put cats out at night; these tend to be the very same people that do not spay/neuter. in addition to the noise, we get the smell from spraying, and of course, more unwanted cats, as, inevitably, the unfixed male discovers the unfixed female. last chance cat ranch is not at all an issue – the issue is the many agencies, with great hearts, are too diffused. and, the city itself is not doing enough; where it is truly failing is passing out cages that allow the worst of the worst to trap and compound issues.
btw – you are brave indeed to agree with biff on anything!

Montreal13

As a gardener , birdfeeder/watcher and as much as I love cats we can’t justify such lack of cat control in this city. I saw too many heat stressed baby birds even easier targets than usual last summer. How much more of an assault on their numbers can bird populations take? Please build screened summer houses for cats, if you want to own one.

yqlresident

That’s fine you feel that way but understand downplaying safety concerns and nuisances using “well other places are worse” as an argument won’t hold a lot of weight with people who have authority to make changes.

Best of luck.

Last edited 2 years ago by yqlresident
Jersey44

It actually may not affect me much. There will definitely be an odor at times tho. I just spent some time going thru a pdf produced by the American Humane Organization on best practices in planning and building an animal shelter. Many ideas on layout, construction materials, cleaning systems, ventilation etc. Do you know whats not suggested? That’s right, setting one up in a house in a residential area.

biff

look, this is hardly worth the battle. it is especially egregious in that in addition to hardly being worth the battle that it will further burden a group of people that are wearing their hearts on their sleeves, picking up after what amounts to mostly losers. what really cuts at my heart on this is not just the obvious lack of compassion, but the vindictive and cold-hearted nature behind this attack. and make no mistake, the lack of compassion and the wilful attack are significant and increasingly emerging concerns in our society. this kind of thing makes me feel reactive, and stokes an indifference toward humanity that i would rather not feel.

Jersey44

You know what? It is worth the battle. What’s the point of zoning if it’s not followed?

biff

yah, zah rulz! how about considering the intent of the zoning laws, which are man-made, not a universal commandment of god. the lccr is not doing anything that would compromise the bucolic living of the neighbours. the issue is purely one about hatred of cats. and worse, it is about attacking people that are acting out of compassion – picking up after useless people (mostly) that did not provide adequate care for their pets – did not fix, and did not take responsibility. once again, to attack good hearts with pettiness and nastiness is gross. it makes me not want to care about people, and it makes me wish the worst upon those that be choose to be so callous.

Jersey44

You’re a funny guy Biff. No one is stopping anyone from running an animal shelter. Do it within the rules. Ain’t complicated.