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Downtown Prince Rupert property owner wins fight to keep goats

Teresa Lee given a temporary use permit for the animals to keep down the weeds on her lot
Teresa Lee with her friend Doug Larsen after the Nov. 14 City Council meeting, where she aired her grievances with the city’s bylaw enforcement. (Seth Forward/The Northern View)

Council has voted to allow a special permit for a downtown business owner who wants to bring back her goats as expert weeders and cute pets. A Temporary Use Permit (TUP) was handed to Teresa Lee at the Nov. 14 City Council meeting, allowing her to house goats for up to three years in her fenced lot.

After finding yard maintenance tedious and time-consuming, Lee, owner of the Moby Dick Hotel, turned to goats as a solution for her yard problems in 2019.

Lee said she first purchased goats named Tanny and Hanny four years ago and was immediately given notice by city bylaw to remove them from her 2nd Avenue property. She said after being threatened with fines, she eventually sent the goats back to the farm she bought them from near Hazelton.

Following positive talks with council members that gave her the impression she could bring goats back to the yard, Lee bought two goats named Salt and Pepper this past summer

She again received notices from bylaw threatening a potential $2,000 fine. Lee said she gave her goats away to a farm in Terrace recently due to the bylaw confusion, though she is also looking at walking lawnmowers for next spring.

While the special permit was eventually awarded, councillors Wade Niesh and Nick Adey were wary about a potentially slippery slope for city-dwelling livestock.

“There was a reason hooved animals were removed from the city,” said Niesh, referring to hoof rot disease. “At the end of the day, this isn’t a farming community. We just have to realize that for every action there is a reaction.”

Both Niesh and Adey agreed that if the animals were properly housed, fenced and regularly checked on by a veterinarian, there should be no problem with the Lee’s goats as a trial run.

At the council meeting, Lee expressed her frustration at decrepit, unkept buildings in the downtown core and implied that her goats were singled out while other bylaw infractions were being ignored.

“People have a terrible yard. The building is burned, or the building is falling down, broken cars in their yard,” Lee said.”I don’t think they’re getting fined, but my beautiful goats, they cannot stay here even one day because they’ve got hooves and they’re going to get a fine.”

Lee said she would like to eventually build condos on her 2nd Avenue property and tries to maintain her yard, which she would like to see flourish as a lush garden, though currently has plenty of weeds.

The TUP took five months to acquire from the city according to Lee, who was annoyed at what she thought was an overly-bureaucratic process.

The goats have previously made for flashy photographs from passersby, and Lee said they are immensely popular with the public.

“They’re beautiful. They’re good. And everybody loved them,” she said addressing council. “Wherever I go, everybody says, ‘where are your goats? When are they coming back?’”

Councillor Barry Cunningham also said that there had been positive public perception of the goats from what he had heard from Prince Rupert residents.

“I think there are a lot of indications that people like the goats, they like seeing them,” he said. “And if they are useful for keeping down the weeds and that, even better.”

About the Author: Seth Forward, Local Journalism Initiative

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