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Residents urged to participate in survey about Sylvan Lake Animal Control Bylaw

“Having as many people involved as possible, gives us the best shot at the most effective revision.”

One Sylvan Lake man is urging locals to participate in the animal bylaw review by taking the Town’s online survey.

Steven Bedford, administrator on the Facebook page Sylvan Speaks, says the current survey, and a currently undated opportunity for feedback, allows for locals to speak about inconsistencies they find within the current bylaw.

“Thankfully, this is the opportunity to fix [inconsistencies in the bylaw]. This only comes through community participation in the process of creating the Bylaw. It is an opportunity to design it around the needs of our community,” Bedford said in an email.

Bedford says there are a lot of “gaps and holes” in the current Animal Control Bylaw, which leaves it “open to subjective interpretations.”

As well, Bedford feels there is “crucial areas and specific information” missing from the current bylaw.

“A bylaw, any bylaw, should be written in a manner that is clear and consistent so that they are easily understood and enforced, in both a fair and consistent manner. Same rules need to apply to everyone. It can’t be rules a-la-carte,” he said.

Sylvan Speaks is a Facebook page for locals looking for reform in the animal control bylaw, and gives them a place to share their stories, experiences and insight with others.

Through acting as administrator for this page, Bedford says he has seen a consensus from his members; the bylaw is inconsistent with inconsistent enforcement.

“There is mass confusion, and nowhere to get the answers. Many residents, myself included, have attempted to retrieve answers and clarifications from the Town, but unfortunately there tends to never be a resolution,” said Bedford.

“Our current Bylaw promotes a lack of accountability and transparency, which is not fair.”

The Town has budgeted $2,000 for the animal control bylaw review, and plans to bring an updated bylaw before council for approval by this June.

During this process, there will be another opportunity for residents to review the changes proposed and give their feedback before Council approves the bylaw.

However, Bedford says he has “huge concerns” with the timeline and opportunity for public feedback.

“The Town’s proposed timeline, and their budget of just $2,000 for this review, is a huge concern. It comes across as if the Town is not taking this seriously.

“I have reiterated the need for this reform to be completed properly and effectively, or let’s be honest, there isn’t any point in doing it at all. Now is not the time to waste our time and resources just to say we did something,” Bedford said.

The survey currently available to residents is to find out thoughts about the current bylaw, where it is lacking and where residents would like to see change.

It opened to the public on Feb. 15 and received roughly 200 responses on that first day.

The survey is open to the public until Feb. 28.

“I believe a survey is a good start, but more needs to be done… I don’t think that only two public engagements as described, are nearly enough and I do not think the timeline is near long enough either for a bylaw of this kind.”

Bedford hopes as many people as possible will take a few minutes to complete the online survey, which is available on the Town’s website.

“By having as many people involved as possible, gives us the best shot at the most effective revision of this bylaw, making it work for our community and the animals within it,” he said.