Councillor pushes for exemption to permit reptile zoo to open in metropolis


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Westmount Mall (Free Press file photo) Westmount Mall (Free Press file picture)

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Town councillor for Ward 10 went to bat for a proposed facility that might home dwell reptiles at Westmount Buying Centre throughout a committee assembly Wednesday afternoon.

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Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen, who will not be a member of the neighborhood and protecting providers committee however attended the session remotely, declared that if Reptilia units up store in London, it will be “so optimistic in so many instructions.

“This mall has been making nice strides in bringing itself again, like a phoenix from the ashes. It’s win-win-win,” he mentioned, evoking the picture of the immortal legendary Greek chicken that renews itself in flames.

Van Meerbergen additionally used the theoretical instance of what would occur if Ripley’s got here to London to arrange an aquarium. “I feel we might discover a technique to accommodate them. I actually hope we might,” he mentioned. “Let’s present . . . London will not be the place the place good concepts go to die.”

At difficulty is the granting of an exemption underneath the town’s animal management bylaw to permit the zoo chain Reptilia, which has two different areas in Ontario, to open a location within the mall.

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Town’s animal management bylaw bans zoos and the shows of creatures together with venomous snakes and crocodiles, therefore the necessity on Reptilia’s half for an exemption. Town banned zoos in 2011 and turned down an software from Reptilia to open in London in 2018.

After Van Meerbergen made his remarks, fellow Coun. Anna Hopkins mentioned she shares his issues about supporting Westmount, however the difficulty at hand is the query of permitting an exemption. “That’s what we’re right here to debate,” she mentioned.

Following a quick in-camera session of about 25 minutes to get authorized recommendation on the exemption, the committee’s members voted unanimously to just accept a report on the topic.

There have been delegations – five-minute verbal displays – from those that agree with Van Meerbergen, in addition to those that oppose granting Reptilia the exemption it will have to make a house in London.

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“What we’ve got here’s a non-public zoo working out of a mall underneath a spot of leisure,” mentioned Wendy Brown, who offered her case for having the town make clear its bylaw. “The circumstances earlier than us immediately units a precedent for different . . . non-public zoos and cellular dwell animal applications wishing to convey unique and doubtlessly harmful animals to London.”

Brown mentioned clarifying the boundaries of an exemption can be “important to keep away from any pointless waste of time and metropolis assets to should cope with prohibitions after the actual fact.”

Rob Laidlaw, from a gaggle referred to as Zoocheck, echoed these issues.

Through the displays, it emerged that metropolis companies Tourism London and the London Financial Growth Corp. had courted Reptilia’s president, Brian Little one, to convey his enterprise to London.

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