Saanich might be joining other communities with bylaws aimed at controlling cats.
Following a report from Coun. Karen Harper, Saanich staff will review bylaws from other municipalities relating to feline control, and report back on various issues, including enforcement.
Harper stressed that this motion does not aim to change existing bylaws, but getting more information instead that could lead to changes in the future. A feline control bylaw could be part and parcel of measures to protect bio-diversity, she said.
Coun. Nathalie Chambers welcomed this initiative, but also lowered expectations. It might not be easy to get cats on leashes, she said.
Coun. Susan Brice struck a similiar note, in raising questions about whether staff could enforce any future bylaw in signalling that she would oppose any bylaw requiring the leashing of cats. Public awareness and education would be more effective, she said.
Victoria, for example, requires owners of cats to keep them in their direct control when they — the cats, that is — are in a public setting. This means cats must be either in a kennel or on a leash.
Victoria also bans cats from trespassing on private property without an occupier’s permission, but since cats don’t care for people’s opinions most of the time that means outdoor cats also require leashes.
Victoria passed the bylaw in part to reduce harm that cats can cause to other animals including birds.
The issue appeared on Saanich’s radar following correspondence from Victoria Natural History Society and input from residents, who have organized themselves as Citizens for Responsible Cat Ownership, with several members appearing before council Monday.
While Harper acknowledged them, she said that she has been following this issue for some time, quoting Robert Frost.
“Good fences make good neighbours,” she said.