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Beaverlodge says “nay” to horse ban

Beaverlodge residents can keep horsing around. Town council has turned down proposed changes to its Animal Licensing and Control Bylaw that would have banned horses from the community.

Mayor Gary Rycroft says the almost entirely new council was caught unaware by the bylaw amendments, which date back to another proposed update in 2015. He adds they weren’t comfortable with getting rid of horses altogether.

“We need to take care of everybody, but eliminating horses from the community just doesn’t sit that well with me.”

Under the proposed change, horses currently owned would have been grandfathered in, and new ones would have been allowed on land zoned for agriculture. Rycroft says he’d like to dig deeper to find who has concerns, and see what other options could fix the situation.

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“We have to come up with a formula that takes care of the people that own the horses, takes care of the horses, and takes care of the neighbours. If the neighbours don’t want horses on their doorstep, well, we’ll have to have barriers.”

Rycroft argues that the only reason City of Grande Prairie residents can’t own horses is that there is too much traffic. He maintains allowing them is part of Beaverlodge’s identity.

“My family’s been here for over 100 years; horses were the mainstay of this community and built it. It’s part of our heritage and it’s very important.”

The bylaw will now go back to committee and administration to figure out next steps. Some smaller changes to other parts of it will also have to come back to council for approval.

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