Montreal approves an animal shelter project worth almost 160 million

After long debates, the city council of Montreal gave the green light on Tuesday to a proposed contract worth nearly 160 million over ten years to the organization Proamima for the management of the municipal animal shelter that should see the light in 2026 But several elected officials refused to endorse the project, considered too expensive, which could commit the city for up to 20 years with a potential cost of 450 million dollars.

After more than a decade of procrastination, the City Council proposed to the city council to arrange a mutual agreement with the NPO Proanima Montreal so that the organization could take over the animal shelter project in the east of the city. The mandate provides that Proanima Montréal will take care of abandoned or abandoned animals, provide veterinary care to the animals and provide sterilization services for a period of ten years, with the possibility of renewal for another ten years.

Proanima Montréal will also have to purchase a building to house the shelter. The contract provides, however, that in the event of termination of the contract or non-payment of the mortgage, the City Council may take possession of the property.

The ten-year contract with a cost of 157.9 million – in addition to contingency costs of 5,000 dollars – with the possibility of a ten-year renewal of 251 million, sparked lively debates in the municipal council. LaSalle councilman Richard Deschamps has denounced the scale of the project and the duration of the contract presented. The elected member recalled that under the administration of Gérald Tremblay in 2011, he had piloted the initial project that was estimated at 23 million. “We are going to commit the City Council and the citizens for twenty years with this decision that we are being asked to take quickly,” he lamented. “I would never vote for that. I would feel like I’m betraying my citizens.”

According to him, the Plante administration should have presented other options to elected officials, such as taking over the file by the City Council as is happening in Calgary, instead of entrusting the management to a third party . He said he felt rushed by the administration that forced elected officials to make their decisions with “a knife at their throats” without being able to make improvements to the project to reduce costs. However, he could not postpone the study of the file to a later date.

The responsibility of the City Council

Ensemble Montréal, which forms the opposition, presented several amendments. The opposition party managed to keep the costs imposed on the municipalities stable during the ten years of the contract. Opposition leader Aref Salem also questioned the possible creation of a second animal shelter to serve the west of the territory, a commitment that remains vague. “We must guarantee a certain territorial equity”, he stressed. At the moment, the administration does not know where the shelter will be located, limiting itself to saying that it will be east of Montreal. In short, it aims to open a second animal center for the western territory. However, he is committed to territorial equity so that all districts can benefit from animal services.

The head of consultation with the districts of the executive committee and mayor of Lachine, Maja Vodanovic, came to the defense of the project that is piloting. He argued that the current model of animal management was based on public donations made to the SPCA, which has contracts in several municipalities. “For too many years, it has been the loyal donors who have, in fact, contributed to something that the City Council was responsible for. It’s time to be responsible and pay the fair price. That’s what we do,” he explained.

The elected member indicated that with the draft contract, the City Council would pay a price comparable to that of other Canadian cities such as Calgary. The central city will cover all the capital costs of the project and the municipalities will bear 50% of the operating costs, he noted. “Yes, it is more expensive. But for too long we benefited from SPCA grants. But now it’s over. We have to take our responsibilities,” he repeated, saying it was “a good deal.”

The elected representatives of Ensemble Montréal voted in favor of the draft contract, but the mayor of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa, admitted that he did it “with all his nose” for the welfare of the animals. The elected officials of the Équipe LaSalle, among them Richard Deschamps, the councilor of Anjou Andrée Hénault, as well as the independent councilor Serge Sasseville, registered their dissent.

A saga

Over the past decade, several municipal pound projects were developed before being subsequently abandoned. The administration believes that this time is the right one.

Announced in 2011 by Mayor Gérald Tremblay after a shocking program report Research on the treatment of animals in the Berger blanc, a first project for a municipal pound had been developed. The City Council had decided to build an animal center in the grounds of Angrignon Park at a cost of 23 million. The following year, the Coderre administration opted for a site in Saint-Michel before the bill climbed to 46 million in 2018.

The case continued to move forward and, last April, the Plante administration revealed its intention to conclude an agreement with Proanima, an NGO founded in 2012 that already provides animal management services to several municipalities on the south bank, including Longueuil, Boucherville, Saint-Bruno. -de-Montarville and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Montreal estimates the number of cats at 353,000 and the number of dogs at 115,000 in its territory. One in two Montreal households has at least one pet, according to the city.

Currently, municipalities have contracts with four different providers, including the SPCA, which has been wanting to withdraw municipal animal services for several years.

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