City Council briefs – July 11

Public concerns on when a dog is labelled aggressive has resulted in changes to a proposed bylaw going forward to city council on Monday.

Dog bylaw proposed

Public concerns on when a dog is labelled aggressive has resulted in changes to a proposed bylaw going forward to city council on Monday.

The City of Red Deer’s revised dog bylaw includes a policy that the city will use when evaluating a dog for aggressive behaviour.

That policy now has six levels — one being the lowest in severity to six the highest.

Bylaw research co-ordinator Jennifer Smith said the policy addition was brought forward after receiving extensive feedback, including 60 letters or phone calls and 30 people who attended an open house.

“The key thing that came out of public feedback was that people wanted a set process for defining aggressive dogs,” said Smith on Friday.

Twenty-three people expressed concerns that dogs would be penalized for normal behaviours, including barking, growling and wrestling.

“That was never our intent,” Smith said.

At Level 1, the dog is growling, barking, lunging, and/or snarling. It chases a person or animal in a menacing fashion. No teeth is touching skin. It has mostly threatening behaviour.

At Level 2, there is teeth touching skin but no skin puncture occurs.

For Level 3, there are puncture wounds to the skin, but no more than one cm (half an inch), the length of the dog’s canine tooth.

The wounds get more severe under Level 4, including one to four holes from a single bite and one of those being deeper than one cm.

With Level 5, there are multiple bites. It may be a concerted, repeated attack. The death of a domestic animal is at Level 5 as well.

Any bite that results in the death of a human is Level 6.

The city’s Inspections and Licensing Department manager will decide whether a dog is aggressive based on written statements of an animal control officer.

“It gives them more structure on how to designate a dog as aggressive, but the city will still have discretion because there are a lot of grey areas,” Smith said.

The policy states a dog will be declared aggressive if it has been involved in more than three incidents at Level 1; has more than two incidents at Level 2; or one incident at Level 4 or 5. The city may euthanize a dog if it’s been deemed aggressive and is involved in more than one incident at any level, or the dog is involved in a Level 6 attack.

Curfew petition discussed

A petition to change Red Deer’s nighttime curfew to an earlier time has been declared invalid.

But the city still wants to deal with residents’ appeals for the youth curfew to begin at 11 p.m. and not 1 a.m. as is the case now.

The Northwood Estates Neighbourhood Watch committee collected 651 valid names of Red Deer residents when about 9,000 were needed. For the petition to be considered valid under the Municipal Government Act, at least 10 per cent of the city’s population must sign.

“The Neighbourhood Watch committee still felt the support shown was broad-based and strong and they wish to proceed with their request to council for the above-noted change,” said Community Services director Colleen Jensen in a staff report.

Watch committee co-chair Crystal Smith said in a letter to the city that youth violence and vandalism is a major issue in the neighbourhood, as well as the rest of the city.

“We feel that 1 a.m. is not an appropriate curfew time for children under 16,” Smith said.

The petition has been circulated to various city departments for comment.

Staff will recommend on Monday that council approve passing on the issue to the city’s crime prevention advisory committee for its comment.

The chair of that committee, TerryLee Ropchan, has already indicated her support as the president of the Red Deer Neighbourhood Watch Association.

Residents aren’t just concerned about youth getting into trouble, but that they may be exposed to risky situations and circumstances, she wrote in a letter to the city.

County fire station sought

Red Deer County wants to build an unmanned volunteer fire station within city limits.

The county would like to develop and locate the firehall on a site at the corner of 75th Avenue (Burnt Lake Trail) and Burnt Basin Street within the Burnt Lake Business Park. This area is within the Queens Business Park, an industrial area annexed by the city in 2007.

“The proposed fire station will be unmanned, and used primarily to contain, store and house fire trucks, firefighting apparatus and ancillary equipment,” said assistant city planning manager Tony Lindhout.

If given first reading, a public hearing would occur on Monday, Aug. 10, in council chambers at 6 p.m.

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