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UPDATED: Cape Breton doggy daycare given approval to operate overnight kennel service

Crate Escape Doggy Daycare manager Marissa Lewis spends a quiet moment with Taylor Swift, her bichon cavalier, in front of the nine-month-old Keltic Drive business that has been given the go-ahead to expand its operations to include overnight kennel boarding.
Crate Escape Doggy Daycare manager Marissa Lewis spends a quiet moment with Taylor Swift, her bichon cavalier, in front of the nine-month-old Keltic Drive business that has been given the go-ahead to expand its operations to include overnight kennel boarding. - David Jala

Lively debate surrounds CBRM council decision to approve land rezoning that allows for expansion of Keltic Drive business

WESTMOUNT, N.S. —

A Sydney-area dog daycare has been given the go-ahead to offer an overnight kennel service.

A couple of dozen people, both supporters and opponents of Crate Escape owner Nicole Campbell's Keltic Drive business, attended Tuesday’s Cape Breton Regional Municipality monthly council meeting during which the municipality’s elected representatives voted to amend its land-use bylaw to allow the operation to board dogs on an overnight basis.

Nicole Campbell
Nicole Campbell

The 29-year-old entrepreneur initially asked council early last year to rezone the Keltic Drive business corridor to allow them to operate both a daytime animal-sitting service and overnight boarding. The request was met with both support and opposition. However, the motion before council was eventually amended to only deal with the doggy daycare service and in late June 2018 the motion passed with an 8-4 council vote with the understanding that the matter would be revisited in a year.

On Tuesday, another lively debate on the issue ensued in the round council chamber at the CBRM’s Sydney civic centre. First, CBRM senior planner Karen Neville recapped the results of a recent public participation program that included letters and emails, some in support, some opposed, to the expansion of the business that opened in February.

Then, during the public hearing part of the proceedings, the operator of a dog kennel located in a rural area just outside of Sydney took to the podium to express his concerns with the process that allowed the Crate Escape to set up shop in an area that he believed was off limits.

Peter Thompson voices his concerns over the process that led to a rival dog daycare service being allowed to operate in the Keltic Drive business corridor.
Peter Thompson voices his concerns over the process that led to a rival dog daycare service being allowed to operate in the Keltic Drive business corridor.

Peter Thompson, owner of Paws Awhile and Dream Kennels, said Campbell’s business now enjoys a big advantage over the competition because of its location close to a residential area and business park.

“It wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place — fair business is fair business, but everything is being put on a silver platter (for Campbell) and it’s just not fair to the rest of us,” said Thompson, during his testimony at the public hearing.

“All these people (supporters of the Crate Escape) say they have to go farther to get to a daycare, and yes, you have to go a little farther because we weren’t allowed to have the gold mine of kennels in the city of Sydney, all these people here say they can’t find a kennel, but not one of them has called me to ask for a place to put their dog, now they’re all saying they’re desperate for a place.”

Campbell, however, said the process she went through was open to anybody and that she merely followed the proper protocol in obtaining the eventual approval for her business.

“I originally made the application for both the overnight kennel and for the doggy daycare, but the business plan from day one was to start with the daycare and if the demand was there we would look to further expand,” she explained, before responding directly to Thompson’s expressed concerns.

“He has the same right, the same options and the same things available to him as a citizen of the CBRM — anyone has the right to go through the process of making an application, I undertook to do that and he was not barred from doing that at the point he decided to open his business in his community.”

Most of the councillors (District 1’s Clarence Prince and District 6’s Ray Paruch are both off battling illness) attending Tuesday’s session weighed in on the matter before voting 10-1 to approve the amendment that rezones the Keltic Drive business corridor to allow for overnight kennel boarding.

Area councillor Steve Gillespie voted against the motion, saying that while he supports the business he felt obligated to cast his vote in line with the wishes of his constituents that live near the business and who oppose the operation.

RELATED: Doggy daycare on Keltic Drive gets go-ahead from CBRM council

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