April 17, 2019 7:46 am
Updated: April 17, 2019 7:51 am

Big cat sanctuary planned for Grand Bend blocked by Lambton Shores ban on exotic animals

A former circus lion scratches its head against a tree inside an enclosure at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater, northern, South Africa, Sunday, May 1, 2016. On Monday, Lambton Shores councillors voted to pass a ban on owning exotic animals. The ban will block a big cat sanctuary planned in Grand Bend.

AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

Not long after learning a couple planned to open a big cat sanctuary in Grand Bend, Lambton Shores councillors have moved a ban on the ownership of exotic animals.

The bylaw, passed unanimously during a special council meeting Monday, prohibits people from owning, possessing, harboring, or keeping animals like lions, tigers, elephants, kangaroos, and crocodiles.

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Lambton County Mayor Bill Weber tells 980 CFPL the area where Roaring Cat Retreat was intended to go — the old Pineridge Zoo south of Grand Bend — is a residential area.

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“There are a lot of children in the area, and [residents] were concerned with having their kids outside. There was concern for their safety,” he said.

Back when Pineridge Zoo was operating, some thirty-odd years ago, Weber says there was still concern about animals escaping from their enclosures and noise. The area also had fewer residential properties at the time, he added.

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“There is no zoning for a zoo on that property, it’s residential, so going forward, any change in that would have to comply with the residential zoning or have a zone amendment done on the property.”

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The sweeping ban covers all of Lambton Shores and mimics what neighbouring municipalities have in place, explained Weber.

“The community has to feel safe with what’s moving into this community.”

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