Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Council delays decision on bylaw exemption for prohibited snakes – via Herp Digest

New Tecumseth Free Press, Ontario11/7/12 An Alliston resident's original path to operating a snake rescue out of his Heydon Avenue home was initially a clear one after councillors determined they had no problems granting him a site specific exemption to the Wildlife and Prohibited Wildlife bylaw.

But the decision has yet to be ratified following local emergency services voicing concerns for potential health and safety issues that fire, police, and paramedics could be exposed to if called to the residence.

Additionally, after news hit the local media about the exemption, neighbours of Jim LaPorte jumped in expressing their concerns and opposition to his keeping of snakes on the premises - the exemption would have set a maximum of 25 at one-time. He reportedly has had up to 14 as recently as last month.

There is now a second request for exemption filed by David Smith, an Alexender Street resident in Tottenham for the last three years.

In his letter to the Town, Mr. Smith explains he is a wildlife biologist by profession who keeps and shows a variety of animals, and that neighbours are not only aware of it, but at times have come over with children to see the animals.

"The animals in my possession are used for educational shows and displays at venues such as school classrooms, public events, charity fund raisers, daycares and birthday parties," according to Mr. Smith. " I volunteered my time and presented hands-on reptile displays at the 2011 Tottenham Halloween Event and the 2012 Tottenham Street Festival.  The educational shows emphasize interesting facts about reptiles and aim to get people over their fears of animals such as snakes. The Harris's Hawk is used in many of the educational shows and also as a Falconry bird; I am a licensed falconer by the Ministry of Natural Resources."

On Monday night, a report from the Town clerk that presented some options to address concerns, was instead deferred for a further report. Below are the recommendations that were to be tabled.

1) That exemptions from By-law 93-135 for the keeping of reptiles/exotic animals be limited to properties in a commercial or industrial zone, or an agricultural zone where the reptiles/exotic animals are housed in a secured premise, separate from any residential dwelling; 

2) Any properties granted an exemption, be required to sign the property to alert the public and First Responders that there are reptiles/exotic animals on the premises and that all species be identified for flagging in the Town's CAD system; 

3) That the property owner and/or owner of the reptiles/exotic animals provide a letter agreeing to indemnify and save harmless the municipality from all damages, claims, demands, money and legal fees and costs that may be incurred respecting any harm or damage suffered as a result of keeping reptiles/exotic animals or enter into an indemnity agreement with the municipality.

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