A small animal rehabilitation centre in southeast Kelowna has been approved by city council.
Wild Things Rehabilitation Society was given approval to operate on land at 2605 O’Rielly Road following a public hearing Nov. 15. Council approved a site-specific text amendment for the property in August. However, city staff still had concerns about potential damage to the environmentally sensitive site due to clearing and the moving structures onto the property.
READ MORE: Kelowna council wild about animal rehab
Wild Things founder Sydney Platz said they hired an engineer to design a small access road and building footprint.
“That aligns with the areas cleared by the previous owners, that respects the ecology of the site,” said Platz.
She added that it’s in the best interest of the animals to leave the property as natural as possible. The centre would treat small mammals, such as squirrels and chipmunks, and songbirds as permitted by a provincial permit. Concerns from neighbours focused on potentially diseased or deceased animals on-site.
“We appreciate the concern about avian flu and other contagions that can be found in wild and domestic animals populations,” Platz told council. “We do have extensive protocols in place to mitigate these risks.”
Rehabilitated animals would not be released on the Wild Things property, instead, they would be set free near where they were originally found. The property was donated by Trent and Maria Kitsch. Kitsch is the founder of Saxx Underwear and the co-founder of Kitsch Wines and Doja Cannabis Company.
“This project is exponentially more feasible with no monthly rent, lease or mortgage…and could make the difference between success and failure for this desperately needed service,” said Platz.
Council was mostly in support of the project.
“I think it’s of value and would be a welcome addition to our community,” said Coun. Charlie Hodge.
Coun. Mohini Singh said she was impressed with the applicant’s presentation.
“I am comfortable with the level of competence and experience on behalf of the applicant,” she said.
Coun. Maxine DeHart was similarly pleased to vote in favour.
“To see that there are people in our neighbourhood that want to do this, I am absolutely thrilled.”
Councillors Gord Lovegrove and Ron Cannan were the only ones not in favour. Lovegrove said while the project had merit, he felt the site was “not the right site.” Cannan said he appreciated the passion of the applicant but still voted against it.