In Part 1 we talked about why our current home is no longer an option for NAPS and its many homeless animals. In Part 2, we will discuss the options considered over the years.
Over the years, NAPS, along with past and current Town Council, Town Administration and Nanton residents, has explored many options for a potential home to call our own.
Most of what was recommended by the Town or requested by our volunteers turned out to be inadequate for our needs, for one reason or another. The search has spanned many years, and has seen multiple different volunteers and Town officials weighing the options.
During this roller-coaster ride, NAPS has shared the ups and downs with our supporters and Nanton residents along the way. Generous corporate and private donors have contributed to our ever growing Building Fund, helping us get closer and closer to our goal.
In sticking with our theme of transparency, we'd love to refresh everyone's memory, and breakdown the journey to date.
The Original Lot
In 2010, previous Council heard a request from NAPS Board of Directors for a lot to build a facility. After careful consideration, the town officials selected and awarded NAPS with a 50X120 chunk of bare land, located directly behind the Nanton Recycling Depot/Hicklin Motors.
NAPS Directors and Volunteers quickly began fundraising locally to secure the funds required for a brand new facility, quoted at $180,000.00 by an area builder for a 1300 sq foot structure that would meet our needs to take in both feline and canine residents.
By late 2013, fundraising efforts were gaining, but not anywhere near the required amount to move forward with plans. As one of our beloved and founding members grew ill, a Silent Auction and Appreciation Night was held for Lynn Maynard. The hope was to help Lynn realize her decade long dream of building NAPS a shelter by raising funds in her honour. The night was a huge success thanks to the generosity of auction item donators and Lynn's friends and neighbors. A whopping $13,000.00 was raised, in addition to hundreds of dollars in Food Bank donations.
This money was allotted directly to the NAPS building fund, bringing our total to around $20,000.00.
After the event, NAPS volunteers grew hopeful that with the application and approval of government matching grants looming, and the newly energized fundraising efforts, we might be close!
At this time, our Board of Directors and the NAPS Building Committee began seeking quotes from local and area contractors to prepare the land for building. The Building Committee was hopeful that the construction process could be completed in phases as funds became available over a 1-2 yr basis.
However, after months of hard work, contractor meetings and quotes, professional advice and long hours of consideration, it was determined that this property is not a realistic option for NAPS to move forward with building plans.
- The property is located in a notoriously swampy area. In order to prevent future flooding and sinking, the ground would need to be built up with truck load after truck load of ground soil. NAPS was quoted at $40,000.00 JUST to make the ground suitable to begin construction.
- Alternatives to bringing the ground up to grade with soil were putting in deep concrete footings or pilings. These were quoted at close to $50,000.00, BEFORE any actual structure could be erected.
- The property had no existing road access. This means NAPS would have been financially responsible for building road access, before construction could even begin on site. This was quoted at near $20,000.00.
- The property has a town easement running diagonally through the entire lot. This easement means we are not permitted to build anything above, or on the existing sewage pipes that run throughout the property. This limits the useable building space of the property, and leaves the town free to dig up the area for maintenance when required.
- The property has no existing utility hook ups. In order to connect our new facility to plumbing, power and gas lines, NAPS would be looking at upwards of $40,000.00 in expenses due to the large distance from existing hook ups.
With ongoing fundraising to reach our $180,00.00 Building Fund goal climbing slowly, and near $100,000.00 in potential land costs prior to construction, it was determined that the property in question is not financially realistic for our non-profit organization to tackle, nor would it be suitable for a structure to house living animals.
The search continued.
The Bus Barn
In mid 2014, with the hopes for The Original Lot sufficiently squashed, NAPS and town officials began exploring other options. Volunteers spent their time slinking through the streets looking for potential properties to lease or purchase while the town scoured available lots for something that fits everyone's needs.
August of 2014 Town Administration gave us a list of 4 options, for which they wanted us to weigh in on and explore. As number one on that list, The Bus Barn became our next consideration. This is a small, rectangle steel structure, heated , with easy access to water and power. It is nestled between two lots used for industrial purposes, over by the Nanton Car Wash.
It wasn't a huge piece of land, nor was the building anything like our original plans had called for. But with the ever growing need for a place to call home consuming us, we began to believe that our lofty goals of the perfect piece of land and a brand new building might be out of our capacity. Converting an existing structure to meet our needs could be more financially attainable, and get us into a new and more adequate home sooner than a new build project would allow for.
At this time, our Building Fund had reached around $30,000.00, with recent corporate and private donations giving Lynn's Auction money a boost. Efforts to secure approval for government grants were on hold, after the government notified us that they would not be able to approve a grant request until NAPS had a legal land description for our future building site.
A few Directors met with Town Administration to discuss The Bus Barn. It was quickly determined that the building in question was being used to store the Nanton Boosters antique bus, and was on loan to the Boosters from the Community Bus Society, who were leasing it from the Town. Their lease had expired years before and had not been readdressed since.
After brief discussion, NAPS was given approval to accept The Bus barn as our new home!
Unfortunately, just a week after approval, town administration was forced to revoke our agreement, after concern from the Nanton Boosters arose. The group had not been approached by anyone to discuss its potential repurposing, and was not interested in seeking alternative options to store the antique bus. They asked that the Town draft a current lease for them to continue use, and the Town agreed to do so.
The search continued.
Luther Park & The Old Creamery Site
With yet another option checked off the list, 2015 had NAPS volunteers move to the #2 suggestion on the Towns list of possible locations. This property is what's known around town as The Old Creamery Site. It is a large chunk of land, located on the north side of 18th Street as you head down to the Nanton Camp Ground. A small driveway kicks in just before you cross the bridge over Mosquito Creek. Currently, this land is mostly bare, save for a small silver Quonset the town uses to store maintenance machinery.
After crossing a crude fence at the north end of the property, you enter what's known as Luther Park. This is a heavily treed area, which was donated to the town by the owner of the Creamery back in the 50s as a family greenspace. This land is flanked by the northbound highway and the Mosquito Creek, and butts up against some land used by the Nanton Agricultural Society to store cattle.
Excited to have a seemingly perfect option available, NAPS put together a presentation to share with Council our intentions for this piece of land. With such a vast space, dreams returned to our brand new 1300-1500 sq foot facility. The option for matching grants would reopen with the approval of this location, and all of the space meant the potential for an off-leash dog park. The Town had existing intentions of eventually putting one in, so NAPS offered to assist the Town in maintaining the off-leash area in return for the land lease and a small operating grant.
By this time, our Building Fund had grown to around $60,000.00, with regular generous donations from our supporters and corporate sponsors and some of our general account funds being transferred over.
One potential hurtle for approval of this land could be that because the property was originally gifted to the town, the town had to ensure the gift permitted a use other than originally intended.
After some research, the town concluded that our intentions would fit perfectly with the charitable aspect of the property.
Finally, Town Administration & Council members agreed this would be a great home for NAPS. It seemed we had finally found our home! They could not foresee any difficulties or hurtles that would prevent us from being happy at The Old Creamery Site, with Luther Park as the designated off leash area for Nanton.
NAPS Volunteers, who by they way are NOT contractors, wise in the way of procuring land and building structures with access to all utilities, quickly got to work obtaining quotes and surveying the land to prepare for our future there.
Not long after our inquiries began, we were floored to discover that with this land lease, we could not be granted access to town water and sewage hook ups.
This was a huge draw back. As you may know, one of our largest issues with our current home is the lack of running water for sanitizing purposes. Putting thousands of dollars into building a new facility which would leave us with no access to water/sewage doesn't seem realistic or financially responsible. The Towns reason for not allowing water/sewage hook up is not clear.
On recommendation, we looked at alternative options for this, such as above land cisterns, wells and septic tanks.
During this explorative process, we were given an aerial view of the property lines, and were floored yet again to learn that "The Old Creamery Site" was NOT what we thought.
In fact, the space we were given (as shown in the above photo, outlined in solid red and marked "A" 990HW) is much smaller than the lot we thought we had requested (as shown in the above photo, outlined in dotted blue).
This new piece of information stalled us yet again. As you can clearly make out in the above photo, over half of the allotted property is embankment to the Mosquito Creek, and is not land suitable for construction due to the rise and fall of the water line. The other half is barely large enough for a structure the size we require, and any structure placed there would be precariously balanced on the edge of the embankment. This would make us susceptible to rising water levels, and erosion, among other things.
Simply asking the Town to revise the property lines to include the large grassy area south of the driveway was ruled out due to the location of the former septic tank. Its presence prevents any digging in that area, preventing us from running adequate gas lines.
Lastly, we were informed we could not install a septic tank for our own sewage, due to the proximity to the creek. There is an existing septic tank there, from the Creamery building, and also a well. However, due to the proximity of the former gas station beside Kens Restaurant, the well is presumed contaminated. The septic tank is too old for use.
As a non-profit organization run solely by volunteers, we could not realistically commit to the long term maintenance of an above ground water/sewage system.
With all of these things to consider, NAPS respectfully declined the land lease for The Old Creamery Site.
The search continued.
The remaining 2 options from the Towns list of suggested sites were ruled out by Town Administration at a later date for reasons unknown to us. One location was directly beside the Recycling Depot, on the north side. The other option was to parcel off some industrial land south of town, which the town had up for sale. With the remaining options ruled out, the search continued.
It seemed NAPS Volunteers and Town officials had run out of options that worked for both parties.
NAPS shook off the feeling of defeat after a short mourning period, and decided to make a huge step.
In July of 2016, at the suggestion of Town Administration, and approval of NAPS Directors, we filed a formal letter of intent to purchase an Industrial Lot from the town.
The Industrial Lot we covet is in close proximity to one of our affiliated veterinarian clinics, which is very convenient. It has easy access to all utility hook-ups. The ground is virtually primed and ready to begin immediate construction. The lot has great highway visibility, which is a huge asset to NAPS. And we could finally have our home!
The Industrial Lot is identified in the above photo as the green tinted square, just south of Nanton Veterinary Clinic. The clinic and the property they own is highlighted in red. ** Correction: The Nanton Vet Clinic is not correctly Highlighted in this photo!**
The property had been assessed in early 2016 as valued at $61,000.00. We drafted a purchase offer of $30,500.00. Along with our offer to purchase the property, we included a request for the town to consider gifting 50% of the property value to NAPS, to show their support for our cause, and the need for our Society in their Town.
Our offer was taken into consideration at an in camera Town Council meeting in mid August. Not long afterwards, we were informed our offer had been declined by Town Council.
A statement from our Mayor, Rick Everett:
"At the Council meeting on August 15th, Council chose to not proceed with this proposal, citing the limited supply of industrial land in Nanton; the gifting of 50% of the lot value and the potential loss of future tax revenue on a prime industrial parcel of land."
NAPS Directors considered the option of offering the full $61,000.00 value for the property. This would mean completely draining the Building Fund, and having nothing to show for it but an empty lot, bringing us no closer to moving out of our current facility.
There was also the fact that taking one of only two available industrial lots could prevent potential economy boosting industry from setting up shop in Nanton. This was a concern of Councils we had to consider.
While considering this disheartening news at the umpteenth Building Committee meeting earlier this fall, Directors and Volunteers alike were feeling frustrated and undervalued in the community. We felt we had no options moving forward, and considered folding our Society. With no possibility of a better home for our cause, the safety and comfort of our animals had to come first. That just isn't possible in the location we currently use.
A New Hope
Faced with the potential closing of The Nanton Animal Protection Society, one of our long time Directors and local businessman Dirk Degraaf had a brilliant idea.
If he could get his partners and the Town on board, he would consider parceling off a section of his own property, where the Nanton Veterinary Clinic currently sits. Dr. Dirk Degraaf left that meeting to discuss the idea with his partners, Dr. Mike Rhodes and Dr. Stephen Degraaf.
NAPS is excited to announce that The Nanton Veterinary Clinic has agreed to parcel off a 50x110 piece of land, on the south side of their building, for The Nanton Animal Protection Society to purchase!
Dr. Dirk Degraaf and his partners are currently completing the lengthy application process to parcel the land, and we don't expect to be able to begin construction of any type until the spring of 2017 when all of the red tape and paperwork has been sorted.
The purchase price of the land is well within our Building Fund Budget at just over $15, 000.00.
NAPS is currently exploring our options. After land costs, we would have roughly $45,000.00 left to put towards a facility. We are looking at moving an existing building on site, and also checking out quotes for a new building, using blue prints from previous plans. In the meantime, we are graciously continuing to accept donations towards our Building Fund and hope we can raise enough funds to get things rolling in the spring.
Aside from lacking the funds to build a structure, over the years, NAPS has been incredibly responsible financially. We are a registered charity. We have always kept up to date with our Vet bills and other expenses. We have never taken in more animals than we had space for, or the funds to care for. We participate every 3 years in a Casino, for which we receive roughly $45,000.00 - $50,000.00. As Casino funds require you to do so, we limit the spending of these funds to operating expenses for the shelter. We carefully monitor the amount, to ensure it will last us until the next Casino. Every single cent spent, whether from the general or casino account, is taken in to consideration when determining intakes, adoptions, fundraising and more.
Can YOU Help?
Do you think you might have an idea for our bare land? Do you want to make a donation of monetary value or construction material?
Would you like to be on our Building Committee?
Are you a contractor interested in assisting us through the building process?
Can your company give us a quote related to a new facility of some type?
Would you like to help out in some other way?
Do you have some advice or suggestions for us?
Please contact us via email at:
to discuss our plans and your ideas!
After all, this facility will be for and benefit the entire community in the end. We'd like to hear what the general public has to say.
This article was written by NAPS Director and Shelter Manager Kim Williamson.
One of our founding members, Lynne Maynard, took great efforts early on in our inception to find a home for NAPS. A place for cold and hungry strays to rest their heads and fill their bellies while she searched for their forever homes. The society originally formed in 2003 after several Nanton residents noticed a need for animal welfare.
By 2007, Lynne was relieved and grateful to have the support of local businessman Kin Leong, owner of Mountain Top Foods. He happened to have an empty trailer sitting on his property, of which he offered to NAPS. And so began the lease of the trailer NAPS would call home for the next 10 years. The generosity of Mr. Leong in our time of need has never been forgotten, and has helped us to have an incredible impact on the lives of countless abandoned, homeless and feral animals.
Our Current Home
The Leong trailer is roughly 600 sq feet of space, and if you've ever been in the shelter, you'll know that while it isn't cosmetically appealing, it does a good job of providing enough comfortable living space for around 25-30 cats at its fullest. There is a small "medical isolation room" used to monitor cats with illness, and a small supply storage room used to store dishes, medical supplies, food, bedding, and more. Lastly, there is an open concept space, where the shelters residents are uncaged, and free to roam as they would in a home setting. The cats are entirely free-roaming, choosing to eat/drink/sleep where and when they please. There are various cat tree's and sleeping spots, windows for natural light and bird watching, and tons of toys donated by our loyal supporters. There is even an outdoor cat run where when weather permits, the cats can lay in the sun and chase bugs.
A shelter resident enjoying the outdoor cat aviary.
Trouble at Home
By this time, you may be wondering why NAPS is looking to move. While the building has been a blessing, it also has its draw backs.
We are unsure of the original use of the building, or even when it was built. What we do know is that there is no running water or sewage access. For almost a decade volunteers have been carting in fresh water, required for cleaning, and drinking water for the animals. We have been able to make due over the years, however a real and pressing concern for keeping things sterile and safe for our volunteers and the animals exists. We have had to rely heavily on frequent sterilization with chemicals to ensure we are preventing the spread of disease and keeping things sanitary. No running water also means no bathroom, which has been more than an inconvenience for volunteers working at the shelter for lengthy periods of time or even for potential adopters.
Other draw backs of the facility include a lack of proper insulation. During the winter months, even with the furnace in working order, the water in the drinking bowls has been known to freeze, leaving cats with no water source between volunteer work shifts.
Attempts to replace windows and reduce heat loss have been made difficult by the overall deterioration of the structure.
Our Medical Isolation Room - Just two kennels for new arrivals, no ventilation, and just one small window for sun light.
The cosmetic issues with our current home are more than just an eye sore. Wood paneling and floors make it hard to sterilize surfaces. Lack of proper ventilation makes things dusty frequently, and can contribute to health issues with the animals living in the shelter. Keeping the interior temperature manageable through the seasons can be difficult as well.
Not Enough Space
The medical isolation room mentioned is small, and can house only two adult cats at a time, or a mother and litter of nursing kittens. This is a set back, in that animals newly surrendered to NAPS are to be housed separately from the general population for two weeks to ensure they are healthy and their vaccines have taken affect. If both kennels in the isolation room are in use, NAPS must turn away any new intakes until those cages become available again. This is especially trying during kitten season, when NAPS can see as many as 10 separate litters of kittens over a 2 month period. NAPS turns away multiple surrender requests each month as a result of our lack of space to take in more animals at one time.
The shelter's 600 sq feet of space can legally hold 33 cats at one time according to the Alberta Humane Society standards. This may seem like a large number to most, but those who are familiar with the industry can tell you that this is only a small portion of animals in need of our help. NAPS accepts intakes from High River, Cayley, Nanton, Parkland, Vulcan, Milo, Claresholm, Champion, Lethbridge and the rural areas in between. Depending on the time of year, we are approached between 5 and 15 times a month to take in surrenders or trap strays in the mentioned areas. While there are several other shelters operating in close proximity to us, these shelters are often at capacity and are overwhelmed with the level of need in their respective areas. Often times, someone who has been turned away by other area shelters will come to NAPS as a last resort.
The Nanton Animal Protection Society may seem to focus primarily on felines. This is not by choice. Our current home does not allow us to safely house multiple species. There is no safe and humane way to keep canines in the building without risking the health and mental well being of the felines already in our care.
With a larger facility, we could then extend our reach to other animals, such as dogs, reptiles, birds and other exotics, horses and other farm animals, all without having to put pressure on foster homes. At this time, NAPS must search for adequate foster homes for animals that cannot be housed in our facility. If a foster home cannot be arranged, NAPS is forced to turn the surrendered animal away.
Two orphaned kittens requiring frequent bottle feedings were surrendered to NAPS after being found under a shed with no mom. They were placed in foster care with a local family who helps NAPS out.
Time to Make a Change
Year after year, the need for NAPS has increased as the population of Nanton increases. Our small facility is no longer meeting the needs of the community and surrounding areas, and we are bursting at the seams.
NAPS needs a new home!
See Part 2 for details on our search for a new home!
This NAPS Blog Post was written by Shelter Manager & NAPS Director Kim Williamson
Nanton - a beautiful southern Alberta town of 2100 people located on the edge of the foothills. Sounds like a great place right?
Well let's say each of those 2100 people had one cat. That's a lot of cats, but let's take it one step further and say that 5% of those cats are not spayed or neutered. Now what happens to that original number?
On average a female cat of reproductive age (6 months) will have four kittens per litter. And 2-3 litters per year. That mother cat and her kittens are capable of producing up to 420,000 kittens in seven years.
Sounds almost unimaginable. Well that community of 2100 people would quickly become a community of 2100 people and 5800 cats in 1 year if only 5% were unaltered (spayed/neutered). Unfortunately it is very common.
What We Know
Research shows that on average in Canada in 2011 there were 10.2 million cats owned. This equates to about one owned cat for every three Canadian residents. 37.7% of all Canadian households owned a cat with an average number of 1.9 cats per household. Based on market research 80% of owned cats have been sterilized, leaving 20% unaltered. However, while Canadians enjoy cat ownership, conservatively more than 150,000 cats were surrendered to shelters in 2011. More alarmingly, when data on Homeless-Sheltered cats that did not find a new home is extrapolated to include all potential shelters it is more likely that 638,875 cats in Canada languished - either waiting in shelters or facing euthanasia. This is where the cat overpopulation problem and the crisis facing those looking after the problem becomes very real.
What Is The Solution?
At this point, if large-scale, targeted action is not taken, the cat overpopulation problem will worsen. There is no one person or group responsible for the problem or finding the solution – it is truly a community problem that requires a community effort to resolve. To significantly reduce cat overpopulation in Canada the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies urges shelters, municipalities, rescues, TNR groups, veterinarians, all communities and any individual who values cats to take the steps necessary to reduce the cat overpopulation problem starting with:
• Accessible spay/neuter surgeries
• Increased adoption strategies
• Humane education
• Adequately funded enforcement
• Responsible pet ownership
If these steps are not taken, a community will be faced with not only a rapid increase in the cat population but also with the surrounding consequences. Some of those consequences include;
What Can YOU Do To Help?
Research shows that Road traffic accidents (RTAs) are a common cause of injury and death for outdoor-access cats. Olsen and Allen (2001) found that 51% of outdoor-access cats that suddenly and unexpectedly died were the result of RTAs, and Rochlitz et al. (2001) found that RTAs were the fourth most common cause of death for cats after old age, cancer, and renal failure. This research is based upon a 'controlled' population of cats. One can only imagine how much high that statistic would be if the population was out of control.
To prevent needless feline deaths, NAPS encourages cat owners to keep their cats indoors, or outdoors only with supervision or the aid of cat leashes. Some people even use Cat Aviaries built off a window or door in their home.
Another way to help reduce needless suffering of felines in Nanton is to ensure that any outdoor cats you have are sterilized. As mentioned above, stray and feral populations can grow to unmanageable numbers in no time. You can help ease the burden on Nanton by preventing your cat from adding to our stray/feral population.
What NAPS Is Doing
Our volunteers and affiliated veterinary clinics have been working tirelessly for years to have a meaningful impact on the stray/feral population in Nanton. Our TNR (trap/neuter/release) program takes in close to 80 cats and kittens annually. When these cats cant be adopted out to loving families, we will sterilize them, tattoo them and release them on co-operating farms or back into town. We have the financial resources and the dedication to take on even more stray/feral animals annually. BUT we lack an adequate facility to process more animals than we already are. We are actively raising funds to build a facility which could help us have an even larger impact on this community. At this time, the Town of Nanton Council has not been able to provide us with a suitable land lease option, but has repeatedly entertained proposals. A recent effort to purchase town own land was rejected by council as well. Stay tuned for a future blog post which will detail our search for a home.
Are There Benefits to Feral Colonies In Town?
An established, stable, sterilized and vaccinated colony will deter other stray cats from moving into the area. This decreases the risk that residents and their pets will encounter an unvaccinated/unaltered animal and will virtually eliminate behaviors such as fighting, spraying and yowling. Cats vaccinated for Rabies create a buffer zone between wildlife and the public which greatly reduces Nantons residents risk of contracting Rabies.
Feral cats also help keep the rodent population under control. They wont hunt them into extinction but they will keep the numbers low and prevent more rodents from moving into the area.
Lastly, a healthy cat colony can help ease the burden on area shelters, greatly reducing the number of animals housed in shelters which has a positive impact on shelter animals quality of life and overall health. It is also statistically shown that non crowded shelters have higher adoption rates.
HELP US Spread The Word
NAPS needs your help to get this message across to Nanton residents and Town of Nanton officials.
Show your support for NAPS and our efforts to keep Nanton a healthy and safe place for all its residents and their pets.
This blog post was written by
Kristen Mills - Veterinary Technician/NAPS Director
& Kim Williamson - NAPS Director/Shelter Manager