Smiths Falls woman who rescues parrots may have to stop

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Smith Falls woman fighting to keep parrot rescue operating – Nov 14, 2018

Jill Woods has been running Feathered Haven Parrot Rescue out of her Beech Street home in Smith Falls trying to save everything from macaws to cockatoos. Due to a recent noise complaint, Woods may have to close up shop.

Woods says she only takes on parrots that are in the direst need.

“We try to take the ones at risk of being euthanized or the ones with prolonged illnesses and people haven’t done things.”

The bird-lover founded Feathered Haven Parrot Rescue about 20 years ago and in all that time, she says she’s never had an issue with her neighbours — until this fall when she was informed that a noise complaint had been filed against her.

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Woods admits the birds do make noise but says not as much as most people would think.

“We try to keep them as quiet as possible, but it’s really no different than dogs barking in the neighbourhood,” Woods said.

Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow says he’s sympathetic to Woods’ plight but the municipality has to respond when there is a complaint.

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“We don’t at all discredit what she’s doing but really we had to make some decisions about the future of this operation and what she would have to do in order to continue to operate.”

Under the town’s current residential zoning bylaws, no more than four animals are allowed to be in any home, and Woods is currently caring for 16 birds.

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At council’s early November meeting, the municipality gave Woods 60 days to let them know what her plans are to remedy the situation.

Woods could try to have her property rezoned or seek a temporary or permanent exemption to her current residential zoning, but at this time, she is unsure which route to take.

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Pankow says an exemption would require public consultation.

“Basically, a public process — people would have an opportunity to speak to either support or even against, if that’s what people choose to do,” Pankow said.

The exemption may provide Woods the lifeline she’s looking for.

The noise complaint aside, a number of her neighbours support her and the work she does.

Mara Brown lives across the street from Woods and calls her the best neighbour she’s ever had.

“I’ve lived here for nearly 10 years opposite them and there’s no problem at all and they’ve been more than helpful to me,” Brown told Global News.

Wayne Foster lives three doors down and says the noise is minimal.

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“It’s no different than a dog barking, no. It’s the same and she’s taking care of animals. What’s wrong with that?” Foster said.

Woods says she’s meeting with municipal staff on Nov. 15 to learn more about what options are available to her to keep her parrot rescue running.

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