Above: Madison Taylor speaks at the Public Hearing on the Town’s Animal Control Bylaw Nov. 24. Madison and her mother were there to advocate for the allowance of backyard chickens. Below : Joe Gosselin and Elyse Prince speak to Council during hearing.

by Tristan Turner with photos by Lucie Roy

At their regular Nov. 24 meeting, Council voted unanimously to defer the decision on a series of changes to the Animal Control Bylaw until January. The topic will be brought to the December Committee of the Whole Meeting for further discussion ahead of that vote.

Council received three presentations and several emails in their public hearing before moving ahead with their discussion and debate.

elyseFirst to speak was Morinville Vet Clinic Manager and resident Elyse Prince, who appealed to Council’s treatment of cats as representative of the community’s compassion. She argued the new Bylaw does not achieve that.

“The current pet ownership Bylaw is exceptional and holds pet owners to a high standard. The Bylaw demonstrates that we care about the wellbeing and safety of companion animals. The proposed changes to this Bylaw are not in favour to the wellbeing of felines … and leaves them defenceless against the elements, disease and overpopulation,” Prince said, adding her opinion the new Bylaw provides inadequate protections and enforcement for animals and residents, and that it “encourages irresponsible pet ownership.”

joeFormer councillor and frequent commentator Joe Gosselin also spoke to the issue of cats. He felt the new system of feline control was “ridiculous,” and compared the proposed Bylaws enforcement of only voluntarily licensed cats as something one would see on “a late-night comedy show.” Gosselin argued this would “lead to irresponsible pet ownership.”

Following questions from residents put forward by Councillor Stephen Dafoe, Community Peach Officer William Norton clarified that all animals requiring permits would be required to be permanently identified. The Town would absorb cost for animal impoundment, including chickens, if owners cannot be found. Provincial legislation, enforcement services, and even the RCMP may get involved in chicken welfare just as with any animal in suspected cases of negligence or abuse.

CPO Norton also confirmed the special permitting process for exotic animals in the new Bylaw that would allow for chickens could hypothetically allow any animal, within reason if the animal is permitted for ownership in Canada and evidence is shown it can be reasonably cared for.

After a lengthy discussion and debate, Council decided the subject needed more debate time than was available Nov. 24.

Council will discuss the Animal Control Bylaw in further detail at the December Committee of the Whole meeting before giving the bylaw second and possibly third reading at the January 2016 meeting for further discussion and debate, and will return for a vote in January of 2016.

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