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Animal care advisory committee terms approved

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The city is moving forward with the creation of an advisory committee aimed at protection and care of animals.

The terms had been previously supported by the committee but sent back by council in late-September, much to the chagrin of supporters.

A notable change to the committee is how it will be comprised.

Originally, staff had suggested one member of the public, four representatives from animal welfare organizations, and one council member. However, after discussions with the community and councillors, the committee is proposed to have one resident, one councillor and seven animal welfare representatives.

Ward 5 city councillor John Gray was originally the lone dissenting vote against the terms of reference at the committee level.

However, with the proposed changes Gray said he is now in support of moving forward.

The former mayor believes having nine members puts the committee in line with similar advisory groups, and will ensure “no one will feel left out, and their contributions aren’t valued.”

“With these amendments, I think we can make it the best we can,” he added.

According to the proposed terms of reference, the committee’s mandate will be to “assist, advise, and educate” city council and staff, key stakeholders, and the Oshawa community on “continually improving the efficient and compassionate care of animals.”

Public delegates speaking in favour of the committee’s creation say it will help foster a better relationship between the city and those who protect animals.

Resident Melinda Diebel said the work of the committee will likely impact the majority of city residents.

Animal welfare issues have been a hot button topic for council this year.

Controversy erupted earlier this year when it was revealed the Humane Society of Durham Region had offered to take over animal services from the city.

Local activists from both the city and region led an outcry, overflowing committee and council meetings, and protesting outside of city hall.

Eventually, the Humane Society rescinded its offer to the city.

The terms of reference were supported by council at its Oct. 15 meeting.