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Rent increase leads Mission cat shelter to search for new home

Treasurer Dana Cole presents challenges finding space with current bylaws; council offers solution
Gigi, a kitten staying at the Fraser Valley Humane Society on North Railway Avenue in Mission, could have a new home next month as the organization searches for a new location. /Dillon White Photo

The Fraser Valley Humane Society (FVHS) is “down to the wire” trying to find a new home.

The Mission cat shelter’s treasurer, Dana Cole, presented to council as a delegation on Monday (March 4) to advocate for a zoning bylaw amendment to help find a new location.

“Our lease is expiring where we currently are at the end of April, and we are currently having a very difficult time finding a new location with the right zoning,” Cole said.

Due to the quick turnaround needed, council agreed to provide the humane society with a temporary use permit if a new home is found. Council also voted unanimously for staff to report back on options regarding the bylaws.

Cole told council the landlord tripled rent last year, which is unaffordable for the organization.

“We are desperate to find a new facility in the City of Mission. Options are extremely limited within the current zones that we’re allowed, which is only four, and we’re looking to expand that so we would be able to find a new home for our cat shelter. We would love to continue to provide the services for the community,” Cole said.

The humane society is currently negotiating with its landlord on extending its lease. Cole said the landlord won’t allow month-to-month rental with an initial offer for a five-year term.

“[A five-year term] is not something that we’re looking to do where we currently are. So we may be able to extend it for one more year. We’re down to the wire,” Cole said.

Coun. Carol Hamilton said rising rent prices are a common talking point with local businesses.

“There is no cap on commercial rent. So that’s something that’s very concerning,” Hamilton said.

The current bylaws have proved challenging for FVHS to find a new location.

Industrial units that fit with the zoning for animal shelters are typically unsuitable, Cole said.

“They’re often quite loud – lots of machinery and trucks. They have some strong chemical odours and these are things that cats are very sensitive to,” she said.

Mission’s new kennel bylaw applies to animal shelters as well as kennels, but its regulations are tailored more for dogs than cats.

“For example, requiring outdoor exercise facilities is not something we would normally need for cats,” Cole said.

A requirement for a staff member to stay overnight with the animals is difficult because a residential unit would be prohibited inside an industrial unit, Cole says.

“These additional bylaws do create more challenges for us in finding a suitable new facility. So we are asking for a bylaw amendment to open up our options,” Cole said.

After the presentation, Mission Mayor Paul Horn said staff can work on a temporary use permit for whatever property the humane society can find while the city looks further at the bylaw.

FVHS takes in surrendered and stray cats from the community, cares for them and finds them permanent homes. The society also provides a spay and neuter program for low-income families that was used 87 times last year and a pet food bank that was used 348 times.

The organization currently has four staff members and roughly 25 volunteers.

READ MORE: City plans activity hub for Centennial Park and Mission Leisure Centre

Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
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