November 9, 2015
Edmonton's Ward 10 councillor, Michael Walters is wasting taxpayer money to catch feral rabbits. At least that's how it seems to the residents of a quiet cul-de-sac after a Peace Officer repeated several times that Michael Walters had phoned her manager directly and asked rabbits be removed from the area. Is this how taxpayer money should be spent, catching rabbits instead of paving roads?
It was alleged by the Edmonton Peace Officer that city councillor Michael Walters ordered the city Bylaw manager to send officers into a quiet south Edmonton cul-de-sac to catch feral rabbits. The residents were caught off guard Saturday, November 7 as the Peace Officer accompanied by two Humane Society workers stormed into their cul-de-sac with nets. The Peace Officer and the Humane Society proceeded to trespass on private properties without asking any resident permission or producing any order to enter the properties. When asked why Bylaw would be catching rabbits, the Peace Officer replied that the ward's councillor had phoned her manager and asked it be done. She refused to provide her name or identification until one resident mentioned that Michael Walters would be contacted. The Peace Officer then provided a card with the Edmonton Humane Society logo but no contact name.
The bizzare incident happened after an elderly couple down the road and way outside of the cul-de-sac complained to Bylaw about the feral rabbits. The rabbits have been in the neighbourhood for years, surviving winters and summers. Caring residents supply the rabbits with food, water, and outdoor shelters.
The elderly couple told residents of the cul-the-sac that they complained to Bylaw because they don't like rabbits. Seeing the rabbits in a nearby cul-de-sac disturbed them and they decided they had enough. Edmonton Bylaw doesn't catch feral rabbits, even the ones that are the offspring of domestic rabbits let loose by their owners. Unless the animal is lying dead in the middle of the street or injured, these domestic feral rabbits are left alone.
Not happy that Bylaw would not do anything, the couple approached city councillor Michael Walters. According to the Bylaw officer who was sent out, Walters had phoned her manager and ordered the rabbits be captured.
Councillor Michael Walters was contacted by several residents. On Monday, Mr. Walters replied via email that he had not ordered any removal of rabbits.
"My apologies for not providing you with a response sooner, but the email was sent less than 24 hours ago.
I am not too sure what you think or believe my involvement was in what happened in your neighbourhood, but I was contacted by another constituent of mine with his concern, and I connected him with a member of Administration, which is something I am obligated to do for all constituents.
Therefore, I would have to kindly disagree with you that I instigated and facilitated the removal of the rabbits arounds your house.
That being said, I am going to connect with Community Standards, the area that worked with the constituent, to see what processes they went through and how this situation could have been handled better and could have been less resource intensive." (Michael Walters email to Dr. Edward Redshaw, Nov.09, 2015)
Mike Vivian, Executive Assistant to Michael Walters phoned Terezia Farkas the same day to assure residents that Michael Walters had not spoken personally to anyone in Bylaw to catch rabbits. Mr. Vivian claims Michael Walters had simply forwarded the constituent's complaint to the appropriate department. Often times residents who don't get a satisfactory reply from Bylaw will go to their city councillor and demand action. Not knowing the particulars of a case, a city councillor can only refer the case to the appropriate department and ask that they look into the matter.
Terezia Farkas, who writes for the Huffington Post, phoned the number the Peace Officer had provided. No one answered, so Ms. Farkas left a detailed message asking if anyone in the organization would like to clarify the allegation made against Mr. Walters. City of Edmonton Peace Officer Co-ordinator Keith Scott and/or Sgt. Sabrina Bergin of Animal Care and Control were to contact Ms. Farkas. To date, there has been no response or communication from the Edmonton Bylaw or Keith Scott.
Peace Officer Shayleen Belick did return Tuesday afternoon to catch more rabbits. This time a business card was left, although Officer Belick was hesitant to identify herself. She then sat for half an hour in her idling car. It's been confirmed through second hand sources that the hunt to catch rabbits will continue for another entire week. Edmontonians will be delighted that their taxpayer money is being used chasing rabbits for a week.
The average hourly wage of an Edmonton Bylaw officer is $34.80 CAD (Alberta Government)
Twitter: @tereziafarkas #yeg #yegcouncil