Moby Dick owner, Teresa Lee, addressed city council at their committee of the whole meeting held on Monday, June 24 regarding her beloved goats, Tanny and Hanny, who left for Hazleton two weeks ago after the city’s livestock bylaw forced them out.
“We loved them. I called their names and they’d come and eat and we’d look after them and feed them…. They are really friendly and whenever people come they run to the people. So I just wanted to know if there was any possibility to bring back the goats,” said Lee.
Mayor Lee Brain presented a resolution to the council to review the city’s livestock bylaw at the June 10 council meeting, after much public discussion had been centered around Prince Rupert’s now famous goats. However, because councillors are not permitted to pass new motions on the fly they had to wait until the June 24 meeting to officially vote on the resolution.
“If it takes a long time [to review the bylaw] is there any way you can give me permission so I can bring those two goats back? So many people want them back,” she said to council.
“I never thought anybody would pay attention to them. But then as soon as I brought them to the lot everyone paid so much attention to the two goats. If I knew that the bylaw wouldn’t allow it, I wouldn’t have brought them in,” Lee went on.
Lee also invited the council to come and inspect her lot at the Moby Dick Inn, assuring them that the goats had been well fed and taken care of every day. She also said that residents and visitors ask her every day when Tanny and Hanny will be back. Some even offered to fundraise money so she can pay the $100 a day fine to keep the goats. But Lee assured the council that she is determined to follow the law.
“Bylaws are bylaws. I don’t want to break the law but if there is any chance to change the law we would really appreciate it,” said Lee.
After her address to the council, Brain thanked her for coming and said her situation sparked a discussion to review the bylaw.
“We all saw what the impact was on the community, it was something different and new and yes absolutely very cute and beautiful animals. We understand your intentions were well-meaning,” he said. “But we have a bylaw for a reason and we don’t do special permissions, they are applied all equally or else everyone would come forward and apply for special permissions.”
Later during the regular council meeting, the council unanimously supported the motion to review their livestock bylaw but each councillor had their own reasons for supporting it which went beyond the goats.
“It’s about trying to figure out what is in the public interest whether it’s in environmental sustainability outcomes or social benefits,” said councillor Blair Mirau who pointed out that the community is also interested in backyard chickens.
Council’s main concerns were a potential lack of veterinary care for the animals, protection against wolves, a lack of adequate space because of Prince Rupert’s urban density, and which type of livestock will be able to adapt to a wet climate.
“I feel obligated to support this to get expert advice on what is best for the animals,” said councillor Nick Adey.
Council considers municipal voting for permanent residents
Prince Rupert’s council was asked to be the first city in Northwest B.C. to support municipal voting rights for permanent residents.
Council heard a from Rodrigo Samayoa, a Prince Rupert resident in support of Fresh Voices, a group that “aims to engage immigrant and refugee youth into their local communities” regarding their Lost Votes Initiative, meant to help permanent residents get an official voice in their community politics.
Currently, 46 countries and seven municipalities in the United States have enacted such laws. Eleven cities in Canada — including Toronto and Halifax — are exploring this option. Lost Voices hopes to present a united front at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) meeting in September where they will push for this legislation across the province.
Council was in support, with Adey noting that it is important to reduce barriers for people to participate in democracy and feel included in their communities.
Council will officially vote whether or not they are in favour of supporting Fresh Voices’ initiative at their next meeting scheduled for Monday, July 22.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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