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Roaming farm animals leave Marchand resident frustrated

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 11/17/2018 10:00 AM

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Marchand-area resident Louise Tetrault stands amid one of several patches of lawn on her three-acre property turned to mud by animals escaping her neighbour’s farm. Tetrault said she’s frustrated by how long it’s taken to address the situation.

JORDAN ROSS | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Marchand-area resident Louise Tetrault stands amid one of several patches of lawn on her three-acre property turned to mud by animals escaping her neighbour’s farm. Tetrault said she’s frustrated by how long it’s taken to address the situation.

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An irritated Marchand-area resident took La Broquerie council to task last week over its handling of longstanding complaints about a neighbour’s farm animals, which she said continue to cause considerable damage to her yard.

Louise Tetrault, a resident of Twin River Road, made an emotional plea to councillors last Wednesday, asking them to enforce a zoning bylaw violation and remove the animals from her neighbour’s property.

"My yard is now killed," Tetrault said. "Why is it not being dealt with? I don’t understand."

She and her husband, Marc, later told The Carillon it’s been painful to watch pigs, sheep, and miniature horses tear up the lawn on the three-acre property where they hope to build their retirement home.

Tetrault told council she was chased into her vehicle by a loose pig as recently as the previous Saturday. A cow and a peacock have also wandered into her yard, she later added.

"All I could do was cry. I’ve just had it."

She blamed inadequate fencing and inattentive owners for the at-large animals.

"My yard looks like it was tilled," she said as she surveyed the damage last Friday. Apple trees have already died from root exposure, she said, and nearby pines are also at risk.

The couple estimated one-third of the property is spoiled. They’ve retained a lawyer and intend to sue their neighbours to recoup damages after they receive an estimate from a landscaping company.

"It looks like a little bit of a disaster," conceded Reeve Lewis Weiss after viewing images of the damage.

Tetrault said she’s asked La Broquerie administration repeatedly for more than a year to do something about the situation, filing a complaint in September 2017.

"It just kind of evaporated," she said.

Next, the couple approached Steinbach RCMP, who were reluctant to intervene without any obvious intent to cause bodily harm, Tetrault said.

They’ve installed security cameras but still worry children in the area will be injured by a large roaming animal.

Manitoba Agriculture referred Tetrault’s complaint back to the municipality, she said, despite her concerns about eggs, pork, and chicken being sold from an uninspected farm.

Lynn Fouillard, Tetrault’s neighbour, said YnL Farms, which she operates with her husband Yvon, is inspected by the province, but doesn’t have a business licence.

The farm currently has 30 pigs, nine calves, six miniature horses, and about 200 fowl, Fouillard said. She blamed the loose animals on vandalized electric fencing, which she was unable to repair while her husband was away.

Anne Burns, La Broquerie’s chief administrative officer, told council the Fouillards have been "extremely uncooperative" with municipal staff. A bylaw officer delivered an enforcement letter in September. Its 30-day compliance window has expired.

Contrary to the Fouillards’ assertion that their animals are allowed under a so-called "grandfather clause," Burns said the RM’s zoning bylaw has always required a conditional use permit for animals in a general development zone.

After another inspection, the RM plans to give the farm 14 days to apply for the permit, Burns said Wednesday.

Council last week voiced support for Tetrault, and said seizure of the animals may be necessary. Several councillors expressed surprise at the size of the farm.

Fouillard said she’s skeptical a permit would be granted even if she applied, and said the eggs and meat she sells are an important source of income for her large family.

She added she’s offered to sow grass seed on the damaged yard in spring.

Walking through the clumps of frozen mud that used to be his lawn, Marc Tetrault maintained the damage, six inches deep in places, requires more extensive repairs.

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