Sask. family forced to sell goats after losing court case to town
Arborfield, Sask., creates bylaw prohibiting owning livestock
Raising goats has been a breeze for one Saskatchewan couple, but the town they live in is putting an end to their urban farm.
Miranda Friske lives in Arborfield, a community about 160 kilometres east of Prince Albert, with her husband, Brian, and their daughter.
Friske and her husband purchased their goats, Abby and Azur, in October 2015 after they realized they were both intolerant to cow's milk.
Friske said she was apprehensive about buying goats, but called the town office and was told there was no bylaw saying they couldn't. She was, however, told to ask permission.
The couple consulted a lawyer and were told that without a bylaw, they should move forward and make plans to get the goats.
We felt like they were just trying to punish us. They didn't try to work with us at all, whatsoever.- Miranda Friske
"I didn't feel we should have to ask permission because that's the point of bylaws," Friske said.
Prior to buying the livestock, the couple researched breeds, picking animals known to be small, quiet and docile. They do not have horns.
The goats have lived in their backyard, which Friske said is fenced in and features a shed the size of a two-car garage.
The neighbours have had no complaints; in fact, they love the goats and "think they're adorable," according to Friske.
Town pushes back
About a month after the family acquired the goats, the town said it was proposing a bylaw that would prohibit the ownership of livestock. Friske was invited to the town meeting to express her concerns.
A Bylaw to Control the Ownership of Animals in the Town of Arborfield was established. The bylaw prohibits the herding, grazing or keeping of livestock within town limits.
When asked to be grandfathered in, they were told no and given three extra days to sell their animals.
That's when they decided to go to court, requesting to be an exception to the rule.
"What do we do in three days? You can't move livestock that fast," Friske said. "We felt like they were just trying to punish us. They didn't try to work with us at all, whatsoever."
The judge took 11 months but eventually made a decision in favour of the town.
Justice Turcotte said the bylaw was a legitimate exercise of the town's municipal authority and found no bad faith or ulterior motive on the part of the town in enacting it.
The couple was ordered to get rid of the goats and forced to pay the town a fine of $1,500.
"'You didn't ask permission so we're just going to deny you no matter what.' That's the impression I got," Friske said.
The goats have been put up for sale on Kijiji for $250 each.
Without their three litres of goat milk per day, Friske said they will be turning to more expensive alternatives like almond milk and coconut milk.
With files from CBC Radio's Samanda Brace