Goats, historically, have no place in downtown Prince Rupert.
Hoof-powered lawnmowers however? Maybe their time has come.
Authorities in the northwest B.C. coastal city ended a four-year battle over the presence of the bearded weed-munchers last week by tentatively granting the owners of the local Moby Dick Hotel a temporary use permit to keep the animals on site to serve as walking lawn mowers.
Business owner Teresa Lee will be allowed to house goats for up to three years in her fenced lot, as long as a public notification process concludes without more than 10 complaints.
After finding yard maintenance tedious and time-consuming, Lee turned to goats as a solution for her yard problems in 2019. She first purchased goats named Tanny and Hanny and was immediately given notice by city bylaw to remove them from her 2nd Avenue property. She said after being threatened with fines, she eventually sent the goats back to the farm she bought them from near Hazelton.
Following positive talks with council members that gave her the impression she could bring goats back to the yard, Lee bought two goats named Salt and Pepper this past summer
She again received notices from bylaw threatening a potential $2,000 fine. Lee said she gave her goats away to a farm in Terrace recently due to the bylaw confusion, which brought her before council looking for formal authorization to bring them back next spring.
At the council meeting, Lee expressed her frustration at decrepit, unkempt buildings in the downtown core and implied that her goats were singled out while other bylaw infractions were being ignored.
“People have a terrible yard. The building is burned, or the building is falling down, broken cars in their yard,” Lee said.”I don’t think they’re getting fined, but my beautiful goats, they cannot stay here even one day because they’ve got hooves and they’re going to get a fine.”
Lee said she would like to eventually build condos on her property and tries to maintain her yard, which she would like to see flourish as a lush garden, but currently is choked with weeds.
The goats have previously made for flashy photographs from passersby, and Lee said they are immensely popular with the public.
“They’re beautiful. They’re good. And everybody loved them,” she said addressing council. “Wherever I go, everybody says, ‘where are your goats? When are they coming back?’”
The TUP took five months to acquire from the city according to Lee, who was annoyed at what she thought was an overly-bureaucratic process.
While the special permit was eventually awarded, councillors Wade Niesh and Nick Adey were wary about a potentially slippery slope for city-dwelling livestock.
“There was a reason hooved animals were removed from the city,” said Niesh, referring to hoof rot disease. “At the end of the day, this isn’t a farming community. We just have to realize that for every action there is a reaction.”
Both Niesh and Adey agreed that if the animals were properly housed, fenced and regularly checked on by a veterinarian, there should be no problem with the Lee’s goats as a trial run.
Councillor Barry Cunningham also said that there had been positive public perception of the goats from what he had heard from Prince Rupert residents.
“I think there are a lot of indications that people like the goats, they like seeing them,” he said. “And if they are useful for keeping down the weeds and that, even better.”
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