Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. Photo by Chuck Szmurlo taken July 10, 2007. Wikimedia commons image. Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Young Port Moody residents dreaming of becoming cowboys may have a beef with city hall.

The community is not known for its rodeo scene, and now it likely never will be due to a new ban passed by council.

Coun. Kyla Knowles successfully introduced a motion on May 9 which sought the prohibition of “inhumane” rodeo events such as bucking, roping, wrestling, and mutton busting within city limits.

“I understand it might seem a bit silly and like a bit of a moot point,” Knowles said, acknowledging a lack of space for such events. “But I think it’s important.”

Knowles said that at least 13 people have written to the city on the issue.

She said rodeo animals are often catastrophically injured or killed for the sake of human entertainment, and the events are inherently cruel.

Research shows that calves experience elevated stress hormones when chased and roped, and steers suffer pain and bruising when they are thrown to the ground, according to the Knowles.

“The routine rough handling of animals in rodeo events completely contradicts industry requirements and best practices for the handling of farmed animals,” Knowles said.

She added that public opinion polling has shown the majority of Canadians are against using animals for rodeo events, and the City of Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver have both passed bylaws prohibiting similar events.

Knowles’ motion also recommends the city forward her motion to the 2024 Union of BC Municipalities convention.

Coun. Diana Dilworth requested staff make sure the city does not have any similar rules in place, noting some date back to 1913. 

Staff said they were unaware of any legislation in place.

Council unanimously voted in favour of the motion.

Knowles was also seeking a ban of mobile petting zoos on city facilities, but the council referred the motion back to staff to find more information.

During the Port Moody Fingerling Festival on May 7, Knowles said she was concerned after seeing an exhibit allowing children to handle exotic animals, such as snakes and lizards.

She said animals in mobile petting zoos are moved from event to event in small cages, causing suffering which can lead to abnormal, neurotic and self-destructive behaviour.

Knowles said when the animals get older and more difficult to handle, they are often disposed of.

“These animals – although some may be rescued – a lot of them come from breeders,” Knowles said. “Life on the road for these animals takes a terrible toll … And at the end of the day, animals shouldn’t be exhibits.”

Dilworth, however, said she wanted to review some of the benefits of petting zoos before banning the practice.

She said there was an educational component to petting zoos, such as children being introduced to different types of animals for the first time.

“These are businesses that go into schools … It’s not just birthday parties,” Dilworth said. “What about bunnies? What about baby goats? And I don’t know that I’m comfortable making this decision until I actually have some time to explore the benefits.”

Coun. Amy Lubik suggested that the city should liaison with the SPCA on the issue.

By Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 23, 2023 at 17:30

This item reprinted with permission from   Tri-Cities Dispatch   Coquitlam, British Columbia

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