Royal Swan Coalition
For Immediate Release
FOR OTTAWA’S ROYAL SWANS
OTTAWA, ON, September 11, 2006: The Coalition
that was formed to protest the appalling living conditions that
Ottawa’s Royal Swans have been kept locked up in for almost a
year is claiming a victory. “It is unfortunate that the swans
have lost the seven months they would normally have spent on the
river this year, but we are pleased that the City has finally
come to its senses with respect to this controversy”, said Ann
Coffey of the Canadian Biodiversity Institute and a member of
The Coalition has been informed that the City has agreed to
release the Royal Swans next spring or, if staff recommends
otherwise, that the issue will go to Council for a vote,
something that the public has been urging all along. The City
also agreed that the facility in which the swans are being kept
will be replaced next year. In fact, the swans should be back
gracing the City’s waterways next spring before being returned
to a new facility in the Fall for the winter months.
Councillor Rick Chiarelli first brought the matter to the
public’s attention, saying that the staff’s decision not to
release the swans this year because of avian flu “was based on
City staff had maintained that their decision was ‘based on
guidelines developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada’.
However, Councillor Chiarelli’s office learned that this agency
had issued a clarification to city staff in early June, stating
this guideline was not meant to apply to captive birds. Health
Minister, Tony Clement’s office further stressed this in an
email, saying “The guidelines were meant to apply to wild birds,
and not birds in captivity. Certainly not to the Royal Swans.
There is no reason that the swans should be kept indoors this
Many of the more than 200 members of the public who voiced their
concern about the swans were equally upset that staff had
withheld information and that councillors were misled. “This
issue is as much about who is running City Hall these days, and
whether councillors are relying on staff rather than listening
to the public that elected them, as it is about the swans”, said
Donna DuBreuil of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre.
As for the new facility that is to be built next year, “We do
not want to see the City overbuild. The Stratford Ontario Swan
facility should serve as a cost-effective model with its modest
shelter and free access to a large compound and pond where the
swans can exercise and socialize in a natural way”, said Chris
Roberts of the Ontario Wildlife Coalition.
There has been criticism about the secrecy and military-type
security surrounding the Royal Swans in Ottawa. “We have much to
learn from Stratford where the swans are celebrated and led by a
pipe band to the river each year with people lining the street
to cheer them on”, said Ann Coffey.
“The City of Ottawa has been fortunate to have had the generous
support of Cognos for the Royal Swan program over the years. Now
it’s time for the City to do its share within this partnership,
and in so doing, honour the role the Royal Swans play in
Ottawa’s history”, said Ms. Roberts.