By Lucie Roy
Morinville – A proposed dog daycare in Morinville’s industrial park was the subject of an appeal hearing Dec. 14. Attendance included members of the Morinville Veterinary Clinic, Lucille Landals, Technical Automotives, Spiker Equipment, Francie and Trevor Pipke (daycare proponents) and St. Albert K9 Awareness owner Kaytie Stack.
Bay 2 of a four-bay building located in the Industrial Park was at the centre of the appeal. Bay 1 is occupied by an auto shop and Bays 3 and 4 are currently used by a heavy equipment company. Bay 2 will be vacated by the end of December and is where Frances Pipke wishes to locate her business, described under development guidelines as a Small Animal Breeding and Boarding Establishment. The business is a dog daycare and fitness facility and Pipke hopes to have as many as 30 dogs being dropped off on a daily basis between 7 and 8:30 a.m. and picked up between 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There are no plans to board animals overnight. During the hearing it was revealed the intent of Pipke’s business is to allow social interaction time for dogs while the owners are working or shopping. Morinville does not currently have a dog park where dogs can socialize together, and Pipke feels this is a great place to start.
For many opponents of the development, it was not so much the nature of the business as the location. The dog daycare would be situated in a commercial suite building with neighbors directly left and right.
Opponents argues the dog daycare would be exposed to heavy equipment noise while other tenants would have the noise from the barking dogs.
VetStrategy Alberta is the new owners of the Morinville Vet Clinic and Practice Manager Jon Shell spoke on their behalf. Shell relayed the concerns of Dr. Michelle Cutler, owner of the Vet Clinic, who was unable to attend. Cutler’s concerns were the location of the proposed kennel in relation to where the clinic is located. When they took over the Veterinary Clinic the location was appealing because of its isolation from other animal related facilities. This was an important element to mitigate any possible disease transfer. Any increase in the noise from neighbouring dogs can increase the risk of dogs being aggressive and impacting the health of already injured or sick animals. The clinic uses their property behind their building to rehabilitate and monitor the progress of their animals as well as walk the animals. The concern expressed by Dr. Cutler was the possible liability should an animal get injured as a result of increased aggression or disease transfer that is out of their control. The back of the clinic and the proposed kennel are within full view of each other. The distance from the two facilities would be less than 152 feet. Pipke proposed using a fence and privacy slats placed on the fence on all sides to reduce visibility and help curb increased barking to other dogs or people coming to the shops.
The development permit was approved by the Municipal Planning Commission with five conditions: compliance with the Morinville Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, a landscaping plan with fences to be submitted to the Town of Morinville’s planning officer, no animals on the premises between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., no unattended or uncontrolled dogs in an open space between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., and no noise or odour. The original approval required Pipke to have adequate soundproofing and the site and building are to be maintained in a neat and tidy manner.
In her statements Francie Pipke spoke of the benefits the daycare could have for the Vet Clinic, suggesting the daycare would act as a referral service on such things as flea and tick treatment. Additionally, Pipke said she would only allow dogs with up-to-date recorded vaccinations. As for the question of the mitigating odour, Pipke said she fully intends to provide a clean and odour-free facility and plans to have a policy in place to have defecation picked up every hour.
Pipke also questioned some of the conditions imposed on her permit and advocated to have them removed. One of these was adequate soundproofing as she said the town was unable to provide her with the building specifications and her neighbours do not have this condition placed on their operation.
Presentations were made by the Town Development Authority, those for and against the daycare, and questions from the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB). The decision will be rendered within 15 days of the Dec. 14 appeal hearing.