Council contemplates what to do with exotic pets 0
CYNDI MILLS email@example.com Councillor Jen Gauthier, left, holds an almost full grown ball python as CAO John Baird and Councillor Debbie Robinson look on. Luke Halstead, right, is trying to have the current township's bylaw changed. Currently the town prohibits reptiles. The township hosted a public meeting to hear residents' thoughts. For more community photos please visit our website photo gallery at www.thedailyobserver.ca.
Riding on the heals of a presentation made by Luke Halstead the Township of Laurentian Valley council held a public meeting for residents to express their concerns with reptiles moving into the township as pets.
Back in November Mr. Halstead approached council to ask it to consider amending the current by-law, which doesn't allow exotic reptiles.
At the beginning of the meeting there were only two Laurentian Valley residents, who were there to express their concern over council changing the by-law to allow the people to own reptilians.
Carol and Darrel Ryan told council they were concerned that once the novelty of a new reptile wore off on the animal owners they would dump them off by their home.
"Our concern is on our road we get a lot of stray animals, cats, dogs whatever," said Mr. Ryan.
Mrs. Ryan added, "I am concerned about the care and control of these particular things."
With Mr. Ryan continuing, "these people are breaking the law. They came to the last council meeting to change the law, rather than obey the law. We think it is a good law."
With a 7 p.m. scheduled start, the Ryans were the only ones at the meeting, causing Councillor Debbie Robinson to admit, "it bothers me that there isn't anyone, besides the Ryan's, here tonight. Part of why I understood we were doing this is that we had the pro group, the group that wanted us to change the by-law and then we received some letters and comments from the other members of public saying that they didn't want to change. We need to hear the other side. We need to hear the side of the people, besides Carol and Darrel, who are opposed to changing the law."
She added, "I am really surprised there is no one here tonight so I guess we will be making a decision based on the information we have the best we can."
Mayor Jack Wilson was quick to add, "We don't have to make a decision we can leave it the way it and leave it to the status quo."
However, a few minutes into the meeting over 15 people showed up, as they went to the township office and not the Shady Nook Community Centre. With a 10 minute allotment the Laurentian Valley residents expressed to council why they would like to see the by-law changed.
"We actually have a couple of examples of animal of animals that we would like to be allowed in the municipality," said Mr. Halstead. "I would like to get the chance to show council just what we are talking about. To take the stigma away from some of these animals because they don't deserve the stigma that they have."
But Mayor Wilson didn't see the point of it.
"They are only two (examples) of the what we are dealing with."
When it came time for Mr. Halstead to close his presentation, he offered to give council a letter from Andre Ngo the director of research and curriculum at Reptilia: Reptile Zoo and Education Facility near Toronto.
"He has written a letter for this particular council meeting in regards to exotic animals," explained Mr. Halstead.
Mayor Wilson asked if Mr. Ngo resided in the township, because if he didn't he, the mayor didn't see the value of hearing from someone out of the township.
"If he doesn't live here and he doesn't pay taxes here, its not my concern," said Mayor Wilson. "I am sorry but we are dealing with people in Laurentian Valley."
He later suggested Mr. Halstead submit the letter to the CAO, John Baird.
Mr. Halstead quickly addressed the mayor regarding Mr. Ngo's letter.
Referring to the township's animal control officer, Michael Street, Mr. Halstead stated, "I am a resident of Laurentian Valley and I am concerned with the town's decision process. If they will take the advice of one man whose clearly not qualified on advising council while overlooking the advice of a man who had dedicated his entire career to the study of these animals."
After the meeting in the parking lot, many of the councillors took the opportunity to interact with the two reptiles Mr. Halstead brought.
Currently, council is waiting on information from Luc Halstead said CAO John Baird. He expects council will be making a decision late summer or early fall.
Cyndi Mills is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist