News | DrumhellerMail - Page #2916
Last updateSat, 20 Jul 2024 10am

Pet bylaw draft leaves some residents howling

    As reported in the December 7 edition of The Drumheller Mail, council had been presented with a draft of the Responsible Pet Owners bylaw.
    The draft, if passed, would replace the current Animal Control bylaw and would require cat owners to register and tag their cats. Other changes within the draft include greater restrictions regarding vicious dogs and larger fines for infractions of the bylaw.
    Reactions among residents have been mixed between those who wish the bylaw to go though, those who want it scrapped, and those who want something in between.
    “I’m not happy with it at all,” said Diane Synder. “I agree some of the bylaws regarding animals should be changed, but not to this extent.”
    Currently under the Animal Control Bylaw, dog owners already pay an annual registration fee of $35 per dog.
    “I don’t think it's fair that dogs owners have to do so much, but cat owners don’t,” said Allison Fotheringham, a cat owner.
    “A lot of cats can’t wear a collar,” said John Shoff, who owns a dog. “They will scratch at their necks until they’re bleeding to get the collar off.”
    One of the goals of the draft is to reduced the number of feral cats in Drumheller. However, there has been confusion among residents as to how cat registration will achieve that goal. Suggestions have pointed to a spaying and neutering program, and although expensive, may be the only way to reduce the feral cat population.
    “As for licensing cats, if they think this will help get rid of the feral cats in Drumheller, think again, it’s not going to work,” said Snyder. “I understand that to get an animal fixed is expensive and there are people that genuinely can’t afford it. But maybe there’s a government or town resource that could help people out with the cost.”
    “People have a valid concern that the cost of spaying and neutering an animal is high,” said Fotheringham. "I think part of the cost of licensing should go to a spay/neuter program.”
    There is concern over the definition and penalties for vicious dogs. The draft currently defines a vicious dog as any dog that is observed to have chased, injured, or bitten a person or other animal, damaged property, threatened or created the reasonable apprehension of a threat to a person or animal, or been previously determined to be a dangerous dog under the provincial Dangerous Dogs Act.
    “Their description of what a vicious animal is, essentially up to the bylaw officer,” said Shoff. “If the dog makes any suggestion of a bark or a bite, it could be deemed a vicious dog and it doesn’t matter what kind of dog it is. If a bylaw officer is threatened by my dog, I have to get a separate permit to have that dog and I have to get a two million dollar insurance policy on that dog.”
    Residents who are deemed to have a vicious dog would be required to keep the dog at least one metre away from their property line, regardless if there is a fence or not. For example, were a resident to have a fence at the edge of their property, a vicious dog would still have be tied so as to not be within the one metre restriction.
    “For one, I don’t understand the logic behind there being a one metre restriction between your dog and your property line,” said Shoff. “If you have a secure fence, and your dog can’t get out, you’re still breaking the law if the dog can go right up to the fence. If I have a dog, why can’t he run in my yard?
    "I’ve spoken to the police about an unrelated matter and one of the officers suggested having a dog for personal safety. But the town is saying that we don’t want you to have a dog that is in any way aggressive.”
    The draft is currently just that. Council is awaiting feedback from residents to make an informed decision regarding the bylaw. Residents are encouraged to contact town councillors and make their opinions regarding the bylaw known. More information regarding the draft can be found at in the database under the agenda for the Council Committee held on November 28. Discussion regarding the draft can be found on The Drumheller Mail’s Facebook page.
    “There are a lot of people who are really upset now and who have already stated they will not donate anything more to the Humane Society,” said Snyder. “It’s a wonderful organization, but this is not the way to do it.”
     “If people don’t speak up, then that draft gets stamped and becomes a bylaw,” said Shoff. “We definitely need to not make this a bylaw, because it's way too restrictive.”
    “Cats, like dogs, are pets and not wild animals,” said Fotheringham. “They should be inside or in immediate contact with their owners.”

Co-op lifts diesel pump restrictions

    The perfect storm, which saw truckers and farmers scrambling over the last few months for diesel fuel, may be coming to an end.
    Diesel drivers have seen their fuel supplies in Western Canada dwindling as an explosion this fall at the Federated Co-op Plant hit at the same time a refinery in the Edmonton area closed for maintenance. At the best of times there were limitations at the pump, at the worst of times the pumps ran dry.
    “It has been terrible for two months said Bob Davidson of Top Waste. “I tell my staff, when you drive by UFA and you see people filling, get in there, even if you are three quarters full, top it off.”
    Davidson said the shortage has not affected his business too much.
    “But I feel bad for the guy rolling in from Ontario who only has one card and they don’t know what is going on here,” said Davidson.
    Drumheller Co-op general manager Gord Van Kannel said the Drumheller Co-op has lifted its restrictions.
    “At our cardlock and at our gas bar, those daily restrictions have been lifted,” said Van Kannel. “They are starting to build inventories.”
    He said this event was a phenomenon, not only because of the difficulties at the refineries, but also because of when it happened.
    “In the fall, normally our inventories are depleted, and because it was such an exceptional harvest they were depleted that much worse,” said Van Kannel. “Then the refineries went down and then the explosion, and it all started to pile up.”
    He said during the shortage the Co-op had to purchase outside of their refinery to keep their stocks up.
    While many suppliers were not able to keep enough fuel on hand during the shortage, daily restrictions allowed Co-op to not run out.
    “It was not an ideal situation, but at least we could still get them product to keep them moving,” said Van Kannel.
    The shortage certainly drove prices up as well. In a survey of fuel prices conducted by MJ Ervin & Associates, the cost of diesel in Calgary in August was hovering over $1.10 per litre. The November average was over $1.23 per litre.
    Van Kannel said as inventory increases there should be some price relief.

Mercury content in compact fluorescent light bulbs causes concern

    While Canadians won’t have to change out their standard incandescent light bulb with the modern compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) come January 1, there are many questioning if the plan does more harm than good.
    There were plans to implement the Energy Efficiency Regulation come 2012, but it has been amended to 2014. This would see the phase-out of general service light bulbs from 40 watts to 100 watts to be replaced with more efficient lighting units.
    The most common high efficiency bulbs on the market right now are the CFL bulbs. Typical 13-15 watt CFL bulbs can produce the lighting equivalent of a common 60-watt bulb. While there is great potential for energy savings, the bulbs contain mercury. This has become a disposal issue and many believe a threat to health.
    “I am not very happy with the direction of the government is going. By 2014 they will no longer allow the importation of or the manufacturing (of incandescent bulbs), which means we will be forced to go to CFL bulbs,” said Tammi Nygaard, operations manager for the Drumheller and District Solid Waste Association. “CFLs in my opinion are literally hazardous. There is mercury and mercury vapor in them, more than a standard fluorescent tube. They are extremely toxic, and if they break, there is a big description of how you are supposed to deal with them.”
    According to the Alberta Environment website, while CFL bulbs contain mercury and pose disposal issues, they actually reduce the amount of mercury in the environment.
    “…the highest source of mercury entering the atmosphere occurs through the burning of fossil fuels for energy. Incandescent bulbs consume significantly more energy than fluorescent bulbs, so they result in greater mercury emissions over the life cycle of the bulbs. By using fluorescent bulbs, you are reducing both your energy use and your overall mercury emissions,” it said.
    While the bulbs do not pose a risk when they are intact, if they break, Natural Resources Canada has a cleanup procedure, which includes opening a window to ventilate;  using rubber gloves, then remove as much debris with stiff paper or cardboard and place it in a plastic bag. If the bulb breaks on a hard surface, wipe the area with a damp paper towel. If the bulb breaks on a carpeted area, sticky tape such as duct tape can remove broken glass. 
    While some websites say not to vacuum the area, Natural Resources Canada says to vacuum only if necessary, but you need to dispose of the vacuum bag in a plastic bag. If the vacuum does not have a bag, it is recommended to wipe the interior of the vacuum.
    Dispose of the debris the same way you would dispose of the bulb.
    “The average person does not know they cannot put these in the garbage,” said Nygaard. 
    Nygaard said the Drumheller and District Solid Waste Association takes the CFL bulbs free of charge as a part of their toxic waste round up. Residents can bring them to the landfill and inform the gatehouse they wish to dispose of them.
    The CFL bulbs are taken and safely disposed of by DBS Environmental in Lethbridge.
    “We want to make sure they are handled properly and disposed of properly,” she said.
    Nygaard believes the potential energy saving of the bulbs is not worth the risk.
    “I am really disappointed the government, under the guise of reducing our carbon footprint and saving energy, is making these mandatory,” she said. “I think the public should have a choice, we are intelligent and can make our own decisions for what is best for our families.”
    She recommends that people do the research, and if they are concerned,  voice their concerns to their MP and MLAs.
    Her simple answer to those who want to reduce their carbon footprints: turn off the lights when not in use.


The Drumheller Mail encourages commenting on our stories but due to our harassment policy we must remove any comments that are offensive, or don’t meet the guidelines of our commenting policy.