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White Rock dog fines are ‘too low’

Debra Ogilvie and Doug Fenwick, whose small dog was attacked and killed by a pitbull, outside Surrey Provincial Court last month. - File photo
Debra Ogilvie and Doug Fenwick, whose small dog was attacked and killed by a pitbull, outside Surrey Provincial Court last month.
— image credit: File photo

Suggestions for a new animal-control bylaw in White Rock, along with proposed amendments to a bylaw outlining fines for animal-control and building violations, were put on hold last week.

In discussing a motion to defer, Couns. Al Campbell and Larry Robinson both expressed concern that proposed fines for dog-related offences were too low.

Paul Stanton, the city’s director of planning and development services, had recommended council endorse changes that bring the city’s 23-year-old animal-control bylaw up to date.

Those changes include the addition of provincial legislation specific to dangerous and nuisance dogs; better definition of where dogs are allowed; higher fees and fines for nuisance dogs; and new requirements for exotic pets.

Including the Community Charter legislation would benefit the city in dealing with nuisance and aggressive dogs, Stanton said.

It “takes responsibility out of the hands of the city,” he said.

Stanton noted the legislation was used successfully in the recent case against a pit bull that killed a small dog in White Rock in November 2010. With it, the city was able to win a euthanization order in Surrey Provincial Court last month.

If the city’s own bylaw had been followed, “we could’ve been taken to court,” he said.

“This (new) bylaw is intended to deal with these issues.”

Proposed fees include higher rates to license nuisance ($100) and aggressive ($200) – compared to $25 or $40 for dogs simply categorized as altered or unaltered.

In supporting deferral, Campbell cited city cost of cleaning up dog excrement as one example where proposed fines aren’t appropriate.

Describing some piles of dog feces he comes across along Marine Drive as “big enough to twist your ankle,” Campbell said the proposed $75 fine to the offending dog owner would barely cover cleanup costs.

Robinson said fines shouldn’t be anything less than $100. He added the city needs to get a firm handle on its penalty structure and enforcement of dog rules before any discussion regarding improved access can be considered.

A motion to defer the two issues carried unanimously.

Council gave first, second and third reading to a new building bylaw. That legislation is anticipated to improve the city’s risk management with respect to construction. It includes new requirements for permits and design of retaining walls more than 1.2 metres in height and a change to how building permit fees are calculated, to ensure they are based on market value of the construction.

 

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