Doug Millroy: A bitter pill for animal lovers to swallow

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I thought it was one thing for city council to grandfather Spruce Haven Nature Park, operated by Ken and Helen Marshall, into its proposed Animal Care and Control bylaw, thereby allowing the zoo to continue operation.

But I thought it irresponsible for council to allow it to continue operation free from any of the restrictions of the new bylaw; all that is to be asked of the zoo is that no new animals be taken on.

It was a thought put forward Monday night by Ward 3 Coun. Judy Hupponen who, wearing her heart on her sleeve on a night no others were in evidence, pointed out to her colleagues that Paragraph Five of an amendment to the Animal Care and Control bylaw proposed by Councillors Steve Butland and Susan Myers exempts Spruce Haven “from everything in the bylaw.”

However, her plaintive pleas on behalf of the aging animals at Spruce Haven fell on deaf ears.

It turned out the majority of her colleagues didn’t give a damn.

The amendment passed in a 6-4 vote. Councillors Butland, Myers, Marchy Bruni, Ozzie Grandinetti, Joe Krmpotich and Frank Fata voted in favour. Councillors Hupponen, Matthew Shoemaker, Rick Niro and Paul Christian voted against.

The offending Paragraph Five reads:

“Therefore be it resolved that city council direct the solicitor to include in the
proposed new bylaw wording such that would exempt or grandfather Spruce
Haven Nature Park from complying with any sections of the proposed new
bylaw that would otherwise cause the operation to be in a state of noncompliance.”

Hupponen also had a question about Paragraph Six, which reads:

“Further be it resolved that consideration by given to forming a written
agreement between the City and Spruce Haven stating there will be no further
expansion of the current business of Spruce Haven relative to the new Animal
Care and Control Bylaw.”

Who, she asks, is going to enforce this?

Hupponen was scathing in her comments about Spruce Haven, saying she visited the zoo in 2017 and “it was one of the most depressing days of her life.”

She said a brochure said the pens were separated by trees and ponds and as this was not so, it was false advertising.

She took issue with Spruce Haven’s claim that there is an educational benefit provided by the zoo in that it is visited by many school children.

Hupponen said there is nothing educational about seeing animals trapped in cages, with nothing close to being their natural environment.

I, of course, agree with everything she said but I don’t intend to go through my thoughts again as I have said my piece in previous columns.

Ken Marshall and his lawyer, Jonathan Poitras, appeared to be angling for another deferral throughout the meeting, suggesting there be a meeting of all groups involved in what has turned into a community controversy.

But as Coun. Niro asked, with the groups so polarized, what would that solve?

Exactly nothing, that’s what.

One group wants it closed; the other wants it to stay open.

There is no route to compromise.

Therefore we have a decision, based mainly, I would say, on support for the Marshalls and a local business, with a concern about liability for the city thrown in, rather than the animals who, of course, can’t speak for themselves.

Ken Marshall said they were increasing the size of the pens the animals have called home, some for more than 30 years, but that leaves the question, “why did it take 30 years for them to do so?”

And taking down a few walls isn’t going to make that much of a difference anyway.
Actually, one thing I didn’t realize was that Spruce Haven has been operating illegally.
Hupponen asked City Solicitor Nuala Kenny if Spruce Haven was operating illegally since it had two lions.

Kenny, who had recommended closure of Spruce Haven in the original bylaw presented to council, replied that “if anyone had lions tonight, they hold them illegally.”

The passing of the amendment fixed that.

Hupponen indicated at council that she wasn’t finished, that she was planning an amendment of her own. However, in the last email I received from her she was still looking for a seconder.

She thought she had one in Shoemaker, approaching him at council to let him read it to see if he still was prepared to second it. He wasn’t.

Shoemaker told me he didn’t recall having agreed in the first place to second Hupponen’s motion, but after having looked at it, he declined to second it because he “thought it was basically reopening the whole 1.5+ hour debate that had just taken place.”

I would have felt better if he had gone ahead because I believe out of respect councillors should be prepared to help a colleague get something to the table.

I recall writing along these lines in support of Shoemaker when he couldn’t get a seconder for a motion when he was a rookie councillor.

In any event, councillors will get a crack at the main bylaw when it returns to council in rewritten form.

As City Clerk and Deputy CAO Malcolm White pointed out, the bylaw will have to be redrafted to include the grandfathering of Spruce Haven.

This, of course, will be a bitter pill for animal lovers to swallow.

 

23 COMMENTS

  1. As a former Soo-ite, it pains me to have people point our how backward and uncaring my hometown is. It pains me even more when I can’t refute their comments. I have suggested folks who have never been to the Soo go for a visit and have been met with laughter and “why would I go there? I love animals”. Very sad–especially for Ben and the rest of the animals.

    • No it is not…it has to come back to council after legal has written up bylaw. See my post below to call the Mayor and Council to ask them to rescind the idiotic Grandfather clause.

      Let your voice be heard and SPEAK UP LOUD AND CLEAR NOW!

      • I admire your perseverance but it would take a miracle to get them to change their minds and this city is short on those. The current city council is way out there in la-la land and getting this reversed is akin to pissing into the wind.

        Maybe if a new council is ever elected things will change for the better but I suspect these lame ducks will be there for years to come and this will never be anything more than a retirement town and will shrink in population especially if the steel mill closes which is a very good possibility at this stage of ‘the game’ that is being played with people’s lives and livelihoods.

        Anyone wanting to cash in on their home’s current over inflated value best do it now before the bottom falls out of the real estate market in these parts.

        It is sad but true.

  2. For those that care enough to take a few minutes to CALL AND REQUEST COUNCIL RESIND THE GRANDFATER CLAUSE, here is the link to the Mayor, City Clerk and Council Members contact info.

    Again, the Councillors ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL that voted in favour of carte blanche cruelty, zero WILD ANIMAL regulation and zero public safety are Councillors Meyers, Bultand, Burni, Fata, Grandinetti and Fata.

    The Grandfather Clause as Meyers and Bultand wrote it technically would allow Spruce Haven to do whatever they like with the animals and not be responsible in ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM to care for them. As written they would be free to beat them or starve them to death if they chose to do so. As written it is WIDE OPEN with not an ounce of protection for the animals, their welfare or for the safety of the public should they escape or be set free by the Marshalls.

    Meyers and Butland and the rest that voted in favour of the Grandfather clause can be compared to a Warden just giving the key to the inmates in a criminally insane asylum.

    Click this link to access their contact info:

    http://saultstemarie.ca/City-Hall/City-Council/Members-of-Council.aspx

    Be sure to CALL and ask them to rescind the Grandfather Clause for Spruce Haven when the bylaw comes back to Council from the legal department to be voted on as written.

    PLEASE SPEAK UP FOR THOSE THAT CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES.

  3. There is an OPPORTUNITY here for Sault Ste. Marie Residents to CALL the Mayor and Councillors and let them know it is NOT ACCEPTABLE to Grandfather cruelty NOR public Safety!

    This is the opportunity to tell the Mayor and Councillors that voted in favour of the stupidly ridiculous clause, to WAKE UP and get rid of this TOTALLY IRRESPONSIBLE Grandfather Clause from the bylaw.

    The World is watching! Sault Ste. Marie is asking how to market our City on the world stage as a progressive modern city, yet here is an example of BACKWARD THINKING and living in the dark ages, condoning cruelty with substandard housing and habitat for these wild animals. Why is this happening?

    Two people, the Marshalls (NOT A TEAM OF WILDLIFE PROFESSIONALS) with no accreditation in RUNNING A WILDLIFE ZOO OR OTHERWISE, whom have NO PLAN FOR THE ANIMALS OR FOR RETIREMENT THEMSELVES (DESPITE THEIR OWN ADVANCED AGES) and DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY WILL DO WITH THE ANIMALS WHEN THEY CANNOT TAKE CARE OF THEM or if they DIED BEFORE the animals, REFUSE the GIFT offered BY PROFESSIONALS AT ZOOCHECK (THAT WOULD BE PROHIBATIVELY TOO EXPENSIVE FOR THE MARSHALLS or THE CITY OF SAULT STE. MARIE) to move and rehome the carnivores to ACCREDITED SPECIE SPECIFIC SANCTURARIES where animal care workers are EDUCATED AND TRAINED to PROPERLY CARE FOR and REHABILITATE WILD ANIMALS that have suffered in captivity at the hands of humans whether intended or from SHEER IGNORANCE on behalf of their captors. ON WHAT PLANET DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?

    It’s NOT A DONE DEAL YET Sault Ste. Marie, RAISE YOUR VOICE LOUD AND CLEAR TO SPEAK UP FOR THOSE THAT CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES!

    Please CALL the Mayor and Councillors Butland, Myers, Bruni, Grandinetti, Krmpotich and Frank Fata that voted in favour and tell them it is THEIR JOB to ACT IN THE BEST INTEREST IN THE ANIMALS AND THE SAFETY of the residents of Sault Ste. Marie to REMOVE THE GRANDFATHER CLAUSE.

    • Katherine, help me out here …I’m struggling to understand.
      Why would 6 Councillors vote for the grandfathering of this cruelty?? What am I missing???
      This should have been a 10-0 vote a no-brainer, thank you for your generous offer ZooCheck, done and done.
      How can 6 people that represent (me/us) not see this the same way? What is their argument/defense/logic to do this?
      WHAT?

      • There is no logic except that it is too obvious these councillor DID NOT do their homework nor read ANY of the supporting expert report documentation, or listened to the experts presented at the Council meeting, nor the CITY Legal Department recommendation of NO GRANDFATHER CLAUSE.

        The other reasoning I can only surmise is that they do not care at all about animals OR THE SAFETY ISSUES APPARENT and have likely never even taken the time to visit Spruce Haven to see the appalling conditions for themselves.

        In addition to the Zoocheck petition of more than 9445 signatures there are also two other petitions online to SHUT DOWN SPRUCE HAVEN with 915 and 268,454 signatures respectively!

        The councillors that voted in favour of the grandfather clause (Butland, Meyers, Fata, Bruni, Krmpotich, and Grandinetti are ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL and need to BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!

        Please call and tell the Mayor and Council to WAKE UP! It is NOT ACCEPTABLE AND SHOULD NOT BE PART OF THE BYLAW.

      • I would guess that the 6 idiot councillors never took the time to visit the ZOO. If they have visited and still voted to keep animal cruelty in the forefront then they are at the bottom of the outhouse in my opinion.

    • It’s things like this that make me fell embarrassed to be a Saultite! Council is making us look like a city of fools! Spruce Haven makes me CRY for those poor animals. It is SO sad there!! I can’t go anywhere near the place.
      There is no way in hell that the sick 6 that voted for this have ever been there to see for themselves. No way! How about if you have never been there…..U CAN’T VOTE!
      How about people listen to Doug Millroy who has dedicated his life to writing for us, bringing emergent wrong-doings in our city to light! Doug is 85 years old, he doesn’t have to spend any of his time writing for the citizens of the Sault- but he took the time to write this today!! Trust in what he says!!
      And that includes you Mayor and Councillors Butland, Myers, Bruni, Grandinetti, Krmpotich and Frank Fata.
      And you too Shoemaker for letting down Hupponen, this NEEDS to be re-openned Shoe, that is a callous walk-back you did there. I thought you were committed to holding council accountable? ?

  4. I also wonder if any of the narrow minded members of council have brought their children or grandchildren to witness the horrific enclosures for such a large animal as a bear. also was bellvue park not closed because of enclosure size issues. all we have done is moved them to similar circumstances but not as close to the public eye. abbra cadabra.

  5. This is very disappointing. Surely Sault Ste Marie is better than this! Councillor Shoemaker please second Councillor Hupponen’s motion. City Council, please give this issue the attention it deserves—read the Zoocheck report and read the research that has been presented to you. Listen to those who have visited the Zoo.

  6. Ben the Bear can walk 9 paces.
    For over 25 years, nine paces one way, nine paces the other way.
    Any of you that defend leaving Ben like this – are the sick ones.

    • Ok, then. We will move you to a little enclosure where you can take a few steps one way and run into a fence and when you want some privacy, too bad. See how you like it. The problem is not that the animals are being neglected. You should be ashamed of yourself for being so ignorant.

  7. Seriously what is the plan for these animals if they are taken from the most caring human beings these animals have ever known??? This is what i ask ??? Where do they go? I dont inderstand any if this ridiculoussness. Why ?? This family have hearts of gold. Things arent as bad as they are maki g them be ??? Waste of tax payers time “!!! WTH

    • The plan for these animals is to take them where they can live out the rest of their days in a much better environment than being alone in small enclosures. The owners of spruce Haven may have ” hearts of gold” but if so, they should want to see these animals placed where they have room to roam and to be with others of their kind. Zoo Check has offered to rehome these animals for FREE. It is NOT a waste of tax payer’s time!!!The good people who are trying to improve the lives of these wild animals are doing so out of the goodness of their hearts. They only want what is best for these animals who cannot speak for themselves.

  8. I knew that this would happen, city council has no cojones.
    It needs to be filled with some new, fresh thinkers that aren’t afraid to do what is right. The old boys club needs to go. These poor animals have to continue to live majorly confined with no privacy. So sad.

  9. This is very sad to say the least. If you are going to shut down these operations then do it. This council just doesn’t seem to be able to take a strong stance on anything. Well, except for screwing up bussing and daycare. Oh, and not to mention, the fire service and placing all their apples in the cart with their “former fire Chief” expert. Too bad Hupponen didn’t have that much compassion when dealing with human lives.
    I say they should have just included them in the bylaw and have them move the animals and close. Election year people.

  10. We have just one more reason to replace this council in the upcoming election. It would be interesting to know just how many councillors have ever been inside this so called zoo. I would have expected council to do the right thing and stop this cruelty to animals.

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