Property owners in the Slocan Valley will be polled by mail on a dog control bylaw.
Regional director Walter Popoff says the mail-in ballot will provide him with guidance on whether his constituents are willing to foot the bill for the service — estimated at $5.70 per $100,000 of assessed value annually. It would cover the entire valley except the villages of Slocan, Silverton, and New Denver.
Popoff explains the poll was one of five options presented to him by staff last week. The others were to provide a letter of consent to create the service, send it to counterpetition, hold a referendum, or take no further action.
He believes the poll “is a fairer way of doing it. When you do a referendum, not every property owner goes to vote. This will be a far better cross section of the people.”
It’s also a cheaper option, expected to cost $5,500, compared to a stand-alone referendum ($12,000) or referendum held in conjunction with November’s municipal elections ($6,000).
Popoff says households will receive a letter explaining the costs of dog control, along with a sample bylaw, ballot, and stamped return envelope.
Although there is no fixed timeline, he expects ballots to start going out in 30 to 60 days.
Interpreting the results will ultimately be up to him.
“If I get a considerable majority, that gives me the go ahead for the bylaw. If it’s close, it will be my call if we go forward,” he says.
The issue came to a head after a couple of separate incidents recently in Winlaw, in which a dog attacked and killed an alpaca, and a man suffered over 35 puncture wounds when his pet got in a scrap with a neighbour’s animals. RCMP said the lack of a bylaw tied their hands.
South Slocan residents previously looked at a localized dog control service but rejected it as too costly.
Animal control is provided in other parts of the regional district, including rural areas around Nelson, which helped staff estimate how much a Slocan Valley service would cost.
They predict it would be $40,000 per year overall, at a base rate of $2,000 per month for the first 16 calls, and $125 for each call thereafter. About 20 calls per month are expected.
There are additional costs for pick-up, impoundments, and putting animals down. The estimate also includes a 10 per cent contingency.