Gander SPCA scratches new facility, ready to move in to vacant building
Delays caused by lawyers, board member says
The Gander SPCA is inching toward a new facility first promised in 2013 when the animal shelter was handed a roughly $500,000 donation left to them from the will of a long-time supporter.
Now six years later the plans have changed slightly — a new building isn't on the table anymore.
Don Farrell, who's on the board of directors for the shelter, told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning that plans had to change.
"At about the same time there was a building on Magee Road, across from St. Paul's [Elementary school] that became available at a good price," Farrell said.
And when we initially were going to make the purchase of this building on Magee Road we ran into some more legal items, nothing major, but stuff that takes time.- Don Farrell
"So we changed our plans and we decided that we would purchase that building and go forward from there."
Farrell said the initial building design was far too expensive for their budget once the group went to tender. Now the plan is to move into a vacant property and adjust accordingly.
As for the land set aside by the Town of Gander for the shelter to place their new building, it's going back to the ownership of the town, despite the SPCA spending $10,000 to clear the plot.
The $10,000 will then be refunded to the SPCA once the town finds a new buyer.
But why the delay?
In the initial stages of being granted over half a million dollars from a will, the SPCA had to go to court as the donation from the will was challenged, according to Farrell. He said legal fees in that instance cost the organization roughly $30,000.
Farrell said it wasn't until 2016 when the organization saw a cent of the money — three years after the SPCA was awarded the money.
After that, he said, another year and a half went into designing what was supposed to be a new building, and acquiring the land to place it.
"And when we initially were going to make the purchase of this building on Magee Road we ran into some more legal items, nothing major, but stuff that takes time," Farrell said.
"The lawyers are still straightening that out. I spoke to the lawyers last week and it looks like that's done now. We should be able to take possession of the building within the next week or so."
Waiting for approval
For now, SPCA Gander is back to the waiting game.
Floor plans originally drawn for the planned new facility can be used for the building they are actually moving into on Magee Road, but the board of directors is waiting for approval from the town and from Service NL to move ahead with any reconstruction or redesign, Farrell said.
Farrell believes the move, and the redesign phase should leave the SPCA with enough money left over from the $500,000 donation to have them fully operational.
However, if the animal shelter comes in over budget, Farrell says there are other avenues they can explore to get a lift in funding.
"Come From Away has been really supportive over the years," he said.
"They've indicated to some of our people that they may be able to help us down the road if we need money. In the end it's about the animals — and we have one chance here to get this right, with this money."
The Gander SPCA is hoping to be up and running from their new home by December.
With files from Newfoundland Morning