New public meeting planned for proposed reptile zoo in St. Catharines
Some events from St. Catharines City Council this week…
A public meeting on whether a reptile zoo should get a bylaw exemption allowing it to operate in the Fairview Mall has been postponed until April 25.
City bylaws prohibit allowing certain reptiles like poisonous snakes and crocodiles within city limits, including the types proposed to be part of Reptilia Inc.’s location in St. Catharines.
City staff recommended that the company be allowed to operate at the shopping center at 285 Geneva Street in the former IKEA space and offer off-site educational projects, training or special events permitted within the limits of the city.
The issue attracted wide attention, with the city reporting that it received correspondence from 792 residents and non-residents in favor of the bylaw change and 161 in opposition.
He also received letters of objection from nine animal welfare organizations, including Niagara Action for Animals, Zoocheck and the Canadian Wildlife Federation, as well as a letter of objection from the Ontario SPCA and the Humane Society.
A staff report to the council says opinions range from those in support of a new family attraction to concerns about proper animal care, risk of escape, public safety and disease transmission.
Reptilia said more than 75% of its animals are rescues that have been dumped by owners, confiscated by border officials or found illegally held in residences.
The society says there has never been an animal escape since its inception in 1996. It has permanent zoos and mobile zoos in Vaughan and Whitby.
The city report says Reptilia told staff it was working with provincial animal protection services to exceed provincial legal requirements and is accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The city council previously held a public meeting on Jan. 31 to hear Reptilia Inc.’s request to change the animal control bylaw. This was overturned when the company withdrew its candidacy ahead of the meeting, telling The Standard it needed time to respond to letters of concern from animal rights organisations.
The city received a new request from Reptilia on March 9 requesting a change to the bylaw.
The report to the board says the species most likely to be encountered at Reptilia Inc. will include snakes, alligators, crocodiles, salamanders, frogs, turtles and “mostly non-venomous” lizards.
All aboard a regional transit board
St. Catharines Council has selected three representatives to serve on the Board of Directors of the Regional Transitional Transportation Commission.
Councilors voted to recommend Merritton Coun. Greg Miller, Regional Councilor. Mat Siscoe and Mayor Walter Sendzik at the Region after voting by electronic ballot Monday.
The road to consolidate Niagara’s municipal transit systems into a single regional system achieved a major milestone in December when it received triple majority approval – a majority of regional councilors and a majority of local municipal councils representing the majority of voters.
The next step is to create a Niagara Transit Commission Board of Directors made up of representatives from local municipalities.
The regional council has asked local municipalities to submit recommendations for representatives for a transitional council by April 29.
St. Catharines has three seats on the 15-member transition board.
All city councilors and regional councilors representing St. Catharines had the opportunity to be nominated for all three positions.
The transition board is expected to be formally established by the regional council at a special meeting on May 5.
The goal is to start operating a single transit system in January 2023.
The poetry challenge celebrates the Summer Games
On your marks, get set… poetry!
Walter Sendzik’s annual Mayor’s Poetry Challenge celebrates the upcoming Canada Summer Games by making it the theme of this year’s competition.
Residents are invited to submit an original poem inspired by the largest multi-sport event in Canada or that embodies the spirit of the Games whose theme is “Inspire. Transform. Unify.”
All types of poetry will be accepted, from haiku to sonnets, and can be emailed to [email protected] until April 30. The winning poem will be featured on Sendzik’s social media.
Sendzik launched the annual poetry challenge in 2016 and featured the themes of downtown St. Catharines, Canada’s 150th birthday, urban parks, the water around us and community heroes.
The event takes place every April during National Poetry Month, launched in 1998 by the League of Canadian Poets.
The Canada Summer Games will see more than 5,000 athletes and their coaches compete at venues across Niagara from August 6-21.
city attorney retirement on the register
City of St. Catharines lawyer Heather Salter is retiring after 30 years working in municipal law.
Salter received a round of applause from councilors at his last meeting on Monday.
“She was always the one who gave the most sound advice, especially when there were things happening around the council and within our community that required a sharp legal eye,” Mayor Walter Sendzik said.
“City attorney Heather Salter could always be counted on to be the one who really brought all the thinking into a very clear perspective on the legal issues we were facing on a number of issues.”
Throughout his career, Salter has worked at the upper, lower and single levels of municipal government. She served as Assistant Solicitor for the City of Sudbury before becoming Fort Erie’s first Director of Legal Services. In 2012, she joined St. Catharines as an associate attorney and was named Director of Legal and Clerk Services in 2017.
Sendzik said Salter was especially invaluable during the city’s ongoing challenges with COVID-19 and had to analyze many laws before they were implemented in the city.
“Thank you all for the opportunity to be part of the St. Catharines team,” said Salter, adding that it was a pleasure and a joy that he will miss dearly.
Deputy City Solicitor Sandor Csanyi takes over as acting manager and city attorney until the city completes a hiring process to fill the position permanently.
Other council news
Full in-person board meetings are off the agenda in St. Catharines due to the sixth wave
St. Catharines Passes Boulevard Flowering Bylaw
St. Catharines will charge residents $15 for a seasonal parking pass at its beaches
St. Catharines City Council recommends Britton for region seat vacated by Darte
Port Dalhousie development will be built on compromise after 18 years of angst and controversy