Residents irked over potential kitty condos sites

By RTT Staff

If the Cat Assistance Team (CAT) have their say, the answer is yes. CAT, a group of 20 local residents, intend to build a cat sanctuary on town property.

CAT, along with Town of Amherstburg’s director of engineering and infrastructure Lou Zarlenga, have narrowed the location search to four potential sites.

The sites include Mickle Park, south of the park equipment, the area next to Ecole St. Jean Bapitiste, a road allowance north of Brunner Avenue and the Girard Street intersection and Golfview Park, near the storm water area north of the park.

However, the idea of these colonies near parks and residential areas have upset residents, especially those in the Golfview subdivision. Golfview subdivision residents are voicing their concerns with a petition and will request at next Monday, June 13 council to remove their park from the list of potential sites.

The number of residents who oppose their park as a suggested site outweigh the number of those in favour, says one of the Golfview residents who hit the streets with the petition form.

Amherstburg resident, Lisa Scott, who lives in the Brunner Ave. area., which is another of the proposed sites, is also upset. Some of her biggest concerns are the children going up to the feral cats, while in cages and the coyotes in the area making the cats a “kitty smorgasbord”. Scott is also concerned about the smell regarding urine and feces while the cats are in an enclosed area. Scott says she is not the only one with these concerns in her area.

Marion Donnelly, a Golfview resident, expressed her concerns which mirrored some of Scott’s. Donnelly expressed concerns regarding the children in the area as well as the well-being of the cats. Donnelly questions who is liable if the children in the park area stick their fingers in the cage or scratched and bitten. She also questioned who is liable once the cats are released into the area. She has additional concerns regarding the health of the cats, during the hot summer months, when they will be in the cages, how does CAT plan to attend to the cats. “There is no access to running water at this site,” Donnelly says.

“There are a lot of residents who use the park to walk their dogs and we know that cats and dogs don’t mix well,” Donnelly adds.

The debate continues on the Amherst Burg Facebook page, residents have suggested using town owned industrial sites, while others have expressed their feelings of having the colonies so close to residential neighbourhoods. The proposed idea of using the former Nexen lands has been nixed by CAT.

Last year, the Windsor/Essex County Humane Society removed 165 cats from Amherstburg. Not everyone thinks that putting feral cats in an area they’re not used to is a good idea, including Melanie Coulter, Executive Director of Windsor/Essex County Humane Society .“If they’re moved, possibly you’re spreading illnesses around that one colony may have developed a resistance to.” Coulter also says, it is risky to relocate a colony of cats.

“Relocating of feral cats is not a best practice”, says Coulter There are other solutions available on the issue. She has made herself and the Windsor/Essex County Humane Society available to The Town of Amherstburg.

Dave Hammond, another Golfview resident has taken his concerns a step further (beside signing the Golfview petition) and contacted each Amherstburg Town Councillor, Deputy Mayor and Mayor to voice his families’ concerns. He does not agree with the idea of put a feral cat colony in a populated area (park).

Amherstburg Councillor Carolyn Davis said having an open house as soon as possible is important to get plans underway. She said that the issue has been well thought out by CAT. Although Davis said some cats might return to their neighbourhoods, other will stay in the colonies specially if there is food and shelter.

Carla Leardi, CAT member, states that “we feel that it (the petitions) don’t have all the information on how we plan to proceed with containing the healthy cats.” She said once the cats are trapped, CAT plans to make sure that they are healthy, vaccinated, spade and neutered, which Leardi says should calm the cats down.

“I believe that the public probably has the wrong vision in their mind of what we’re trying to set up.” The cat condos, Leardi says, will be pleasing to the eye.

It has been taken from experts that have set up cat sanctuaries that are successful in other areas so there is no reason it should not be successful in our area.”

“We’re working very closely with the town and we have a plan of procedure so every step is taken very carefully.”

“There are a lot of residents looking to the town for answers to what are you going to do, and then when CAT, which is just a group of volunteers, comes up with a solution and says hey, we’re volunteers, we’d like to help, I think we need more people to say that. I think we need more people to say hey, what can I do to help and that’s our position. We want to help, we want to make sure we do this properly, that it’s safe for the residents and humanily for the cats.”

At press time a date for the public meeting had not been decided on.

One response to “Residents irked over potential kitty condos sites”

  1. karen says:

    I would like to say that the best way of dealing with this whole problem is to TNR (trap,neuter/spay,release)these cats, starting with seymour street. By fixing males and females, you will see no more spraying, no more cat fights and no more kittens. The cats can live out their lives and CAT has offered to feed and shelter them as well. Isnt that what CAT is all about? It seems the residence have forced CAT to remove/relocate the cats instead of doing whats best for all.