The future of Spruce Haven Nature Park, which seemed to be secure after council passed an amendment Feb. 20 grandfathering it into the proposed new animal care and control bylaw, is in jeopardy again.
Because a wolf recently escaped from the zoo operated by Ken and Helen Marshall, Councillors Steve Butland and Susan Myers, the presenters of the amending resolution, will be presenting council with a motion to reconsider when it meets Monday night.
The new animal care and control bylaw as proposed, which would eliminate zoos from the city, would then be voted on.
It could still make for some interesting discussion as the amendment, which staff had been preparing for inclusion in a redraft of the care and control bylaw, passed by a narrow margin, 6-4.
Councillors Butland, Myers, Marchy Bruni, Ozzie Grandinetti, Joe Krmpotich and Frank Fata had voted in favour of the amendment. Councillors Judy Hupponen, Matthew Shoemaker, Rick Niro and Paul Christian voted against.
Councillors Lou Turco and Sandro Hollingsworth were not present for the meeting and Mayor Christian Provenzano declared a conflict as one of the parties was a former client.
With Butland and Myers obviously changing their vote, it would appear the original animal care and control bylaw as proposed would now sail through easily and Spruce Haven would be forced to close.
But then, of course, we don’t know which way Turco and Hollingsworth, who presumably will be attending this meeting, will vote.
The paragraph in the Butland-Myers amending resolution that fired up animal lovers read:
“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.”
This went directly against what they were seeking and what was proposed in the original resolution, the banning of zoos within the city of Sault Ste. Marie.
Their worry was and remains the woeful conditions in which the animals at Spruce Haven live, quarters so cramped as to constitute abuse.
They should be pleased with the new resolution to be presented by Butland and Myers. The final paragraph reads:
“Now therefore be it resolved that the City of Sault Ste. Marie adopt the Animal Care and Control Bylaw recommended by the legal department including the prohibition of zoos in Sault Ste. Marie; and be it further resolved that the City require Spruce Haven Nature Park to be in compliance with the Animal Care and Control By-law herein adopted on or before December 31, 2018.
To be in compliance means closure on or before Dec. 31 of this year, with the animals being shipped to other zoos with facilities that would allow them more room to roam at no cost to the Marshalls or the city.
From a business standpoint, this might seem unfair to the Marshalls, who say some of the elderly animals, such as Ben the Bear who has been there more than 20 years, will not survive such a trip.
Looking at it from the viewpoint of the animals, who have room only to pace back and forth or in circles, I’ll bet they would say, “We’ll take that chance.”