Lambton Shores bylaw tames talk of big cat sanctuary

Leopard lying on a log. December 27, 2016. (Photo from Pxhere)

Lambton Shores council has taken proactive measures as it tracks possible development of a big cat sanctuary near Grand Bend.

At a special meeting Monday, councillors unanimously passed an exotic animal bylaw that bans the ownership of animals including tigers, lions, cougars and leopards.

Mayor Bill Weber said after news of the sanctuary broke, a number of community members expressed concern.

“That was brought to our attention that they were planning to have large cats, lions and that, in the community,” said Weber. “So we thought we should have something in place to have tools to work with if something develops. We can utilize the bylaw to make sure that there’s a process to ensure that things are safe.”

Mark Drysdale and partner Tammy Nyyssonen were reportedly hoping to open a large cat retreat in June in the former Pineridge Zoo location south of Grand Bend.

Mayor Weber said the former zoo, which operated in the area for 40 years, caused a number of problems for the community.

“Back when it operated many years ago, there were animals that were not contained on the property and smells on the property, and that was closed down and the zoning has changed — it’s a residential zoning on that property, so those things would not be permitted now without a zone amendment to our planning process,” he said.

Weber said neither Drysdale nor Nyyssonen have officially contacted Lambton Shores about their plans.