Hamilton aviary can stay put during search for long-term solution

The search continues for a solution that will keep Hamilton's aviary in its current Westdale location.
The search continues for a solution that will keep Hamilton's aviary in its current Westdale location. Friends of the Aviary

Hamilton’s exotic birds have been granted a reprieve.

City politicians have voted to let the aviary stay in its Westdale location, alongside Churchill Park, while the Friends of the Aviary and city staff work out a long-term solution for the crumbling building.

A motion presented by Councillor Sam Merulla, and approved by the public works committee on Monday, means the sanctuary and its 65 feathered residents can stay put on a month-to-month basis, while a detailed plan of action is developed.

The creation of that plan will involve city staff meeting with Friends of the Aviary, the volunteer group that runs the facility, as well as with staff from Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) which leases the dilapidated structure to the city.

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Merulla says there’s “a general consensus that we want it (the aviary) to survive”, while adding that “we just can’t make a decision based on assumptions.”

Friends of the Aviary have told committee members that over three to five years they believe they can find revenues through fundraising and other sources to shoulder the cost of operating the aviary and to begin work on extensive structural repairs that are needed to keep it functioning.

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The cost of those repairs is among the unknowns but had previously been estimated by city staff in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Friends of the Aviary spent much of the past year trying to find a new home for the birds, but despite receiving several offers, board chair Sherry Houston says they were unable to find a location that met their needs.

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