Thursday, October 9, 2008

Residents bare claws over bylaw

Niagara This Week - Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Lincoln council votes to defer decision on changing rules on feline care

About 100 cat lovers bared their claws to fight the implementation of an animal care and control bylaw at Lincoln council Monday night.

The ruling as it related to felines was eventually deferred to a future meeting.

The bylaw was poised to implement rulings to restrain cats from running at large, similar to the rules applied to dogs.

Tempers flared with residents shouting out "shame on you" at councillors from the chamber seats when Mayor Bill Hodgson said that his council had "probably made a mistake bringing it forward."

Reasons included a "meaty agenda, including the YMCA," that had been on the table Sept. 22. "I can only apologize."

Councillors listens to their constituents, he told the gathered crowd. He said that the bylaw would be referred to staff so all comments received can be reviewed.

"We're going to get this right," he assured residents.

Resident Derrick Morrissey, representing his 19-year-old cat, told council he was "shocked" that portions of the bylaw were going to be deferred.

"I'm here to stop this going forward from here on," he said.

He said committee members were failing their citizens, adding that the whole system was "rot," and full of "ambiguity and corruption." Committee members "broke the trust of the public," he said.

Coun. Peter Randall took exception to his comments, calling what was occurring before everyone's very eyes "democracy in its finest."

"People are passionate about this subject," he said. "That doesn't mean we succumbed to pressure."

Resident and self-described animal-lover Annette Schulz presented her thoughts on potential revisions to the bylaw.

"I see chances for improvement," she told councillors.

Her suggestions included alterations such as: no unaltered cats may roam at large, restricting the Humane Society to collect only fixed cats, and tickets for failure to scoop feces.

Having cats outside serve a valuable function, she added, included the repelling of rodents.

Her comments were met with extended applause from the constituents on hand.

The outpouring of submissions to the Town of Lincoln was unprecedented. Coun. Wayne MacMillan said in the past week he has been called all of "cat hater," "cat murderer" and "a supporter of cat genocide."

He called those comments absolutely false, and said he resented the terms directed at him.

"This may surprise everyone," said Coun. Rob Foster. "But we do listen to the public. Let's be frank. We decided to take this back and have a real good look at it."

"It was mandated by the province to update the bylaw," he reminded constituents.

"We don't just go out and randomly make up bylaws."

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