Might pigeon racer get reprieve from Amherstburg town council?


Town Logo Small-webBy Ron Giofu


A youth who wants to continue racing pigeons from his Illinois Ave. yard may get a second chance from town council.

Robbie Taylor – who was denied the ability to race his pigeons after town council chose to enforce the existing zoning bylaw at the Oct. 29, 2012 meeting – may get another shot at continuing with his sport at his home as town administration has been asked to come back with possible wording for a possible change to the aforementioned zoning bylaw.

The issue arose at the Dec. 2 town council meeting when Councillor Diane Pouget formally introduced a motion to have council reconsider its previous motion passed last year.

Councillor Bart DiPasquale said he first started looking into the issue last year and began doing research.

“It’s quite a popular sport,” said DiPasquale.

DiPasquale added Taylor is a member of the Canadian Racing Pigeon Union and emphasized the sport is one that Queen Elizabeth II also participates in.

“It’s a well documented sport across North America,” said DiPasquale. “It’s a sport (Taylor) has. I think we have to think differently and more open minded.”

Working with Taylor and letting him continue with his sport at his home could “bring good publicity to our community,” he believed.

Councillor Carolyn Davies said she was of the understanding that pigeons don’t defecate when flying and only do so when they land. She said Taylor has “strong support” in his neighbourhood and that other municipalities such as Windsor, LaSalle, Peterborough, Hamilton and Toronto have less restrictive bylaws that allow people like Taylor to keep their birds.

“I think this is a trend,” said Davies.

Pouget noted she was “adamantly opposed” to allowing Taylor to have his pigeons at his home but revisited the issue and did further research. She noted she was struck by the fact his neighbors showed overwhelming support and were fine with Taylor keeping his pigeons and racing them from his home.

“They all signed the petition,” she said.

Pouget suggested the town allow Taylor to race pigeons from his home on a one-year “test period” and work with the racing pigeon union to craft a different solution.

Davies countered that testing has been done and that opting for a “test period” would allow “for one person out of 100 who doesn’t like birds” the opportunity to “open up wounds.”

Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland believed Taylor should have an opportunity to continue racing pigeons form his home with it being his suggestion to have administration come back with proper wording for a possible new bylaw.

“This is a sport,” said Sutherland.

No one wants to take Taylor’s hobby away from him, argued Councillor John Sutton, but “he’s in violation of the bylaw.”

Sutton stated town council has also said “no” to people with show pigeons and chickens in other circumstances.

“I think the question boils down to whether or not we believe in keeping racing pigeons in a non-agricultural area in the town of Amherstburg and to have a special bylaw to deal with that,” he said.

Having a proper bylaw to deal with all situations was something he preferred as Sutton opposed dealing with matters “haphazardly on a per case basis.”

Mayor Wayne Hurst cautioned council was heading down “a slippery slope” and said the current bylaw was “in place for a reason.”

Hurst recalled growing up with friends with pigeons, pigs and other animals but the bylaw was enacted to deal with problems that eventually ensued. He predicted problems for the town if an exception were to be made for Taylor.

“It’s something that will cause some problems down the road,” Hurst told council, “and I caution you on that very fact.”

Referencing the owner of the show pigeons, Hurst also asked council “what are you going to do when he comes back?

“If someone requested this on Dalhousie St., we wouldn’t even be talking about this,” added Hurst.

Planner Rebecca Belanger noted that it was a land use matter and that bylaws that conflict with current bylaws could not be introduced. She indicated a modification to the existing zoning bylaw may be possible and suggested site specific zoning may be an option for council.

Sutton added any bylaw or changes to a bylaw would have to be applicable to all residents of the town and be open to public input.

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