A decision for building a new animal shelter in Richmond was put on hold this week after council asked staff for more details.
Three proposals were before council on Monday at a general purposes meeting. Council approved a budget of $8 million in 2017 for a new shelter, but according to city staff, this would only be enough for a 3,700-square-foot shelter – the current facility is 4,580 square feet in size. Staff have put forward two other proposals based on stakeholder feedback, a review of the shelter’s intake data, as well as industry guidelines and best practises and “science-based animal welfare principles.”
The second option is a 7,300-square-foot shelter which would include an outdoor fenced area and an injured wildlife room – this would cost about $10 million. The third option is an 8,000-square-foot facility with a price tag of $13 million that would also add an adoption room, a multi-purpose room and a volunteer office. Currently there are 70 volunteers who give 4,500 hours per year to the Regional Animal Protection Society that runs the city shelter.
When discussing the options, Coun. Bill McNulty pointed out the city had “one shot” to get it right and suggested there might be a “hybrid” between the $8 million option and the $13 million option.
Coun. Harold Steves asked whether the old building could be repurposed in addition to building a new one.
“Surely we can do something with the existing building without knocking it down,” he said.
Coun. Carol Day suggested council refer the motion back to staff. She pointed out there was no input from stakeholders in the staff report. She said she also wanted more details, for example, how many levels the building would be considering the lot is small. Because she had more questions than answers, Day suggested referring the motion back to staff.
Coun. Alexa Loo questioned from which capital projects the extra $5 million would come from and suggested she’d support the $13 million option if the Phoenix Net Loft project were scrapped.
The two larger options increase the capacity to care for animals – 16 dos, 36 cats, eight rabbits and 10-12 small animals.
According to the staff report, if council approves a budget larger than $8 million, they would cancel or postpone other capital projects. Staff note that construction costs have risen in the past year, partly because of tariffs on steel and aluminum and partly because of the lack of contractors.
More than 800 animals come through the shelter annually, including companion animals, wildlife and small farm animals.
Staff said they would bring more information within 60 days to council.