Kippens family farm can stay, as council rescinds order to remove livestock

"We had to do the right thing," says the town's mayor, who admits public pressure played a role.

Didn't have all the facts, says mayor, as Aucoin family now allowed to keep animals

The Aucoin family farm sits on seven acres of land, which the family has owned the deed to since 1895, as a development company has constructed a modern subdivision around it. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

A family in Kippens who have been operating a farm since 1895 will be allowed to keep their animals on their land, after council rescinded an order telling the Aucoin family they needed to get rid of them.

"The public pressure was fabulous because it was the catalyst that drove me as mayor to get all the facts," says Kippens Mayor Debbie Brake-Patten.

We had to do the right thing.- Mayor Debbie Brake-Patten

Back in March, council had voted in favour of a stop-work order for the Aucoin family farm, which spans seven acres of land in the western Newfoundland community.

That original order was rescinded, but Gerard Aucoin got another order on Oct. 16, saying he had to get rid of the animals and his sheds by June 2019.

Now, that order has also been rescinded.

"I think it's a win-win situation with the Town of Kippens," Brake-Patten told the CBC Newfoundland Morning Show.

Orchard Lane is a well-manicured subdivision built up around the Aucoin family farm, which has been on the same plot of land in Kippens since 1895. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

"I know that maybe the developers may not be happy, but I think in a time where we are right now we all need to try to live in harmony, and development is not all about houses, developments can be farms, can be horse ranches, they can be agriculture, they can be plantations, so I think we need to diversify."

Area rezoned in 2012

In 2012, Millbrook Development Company had offered to buy Aucoin's land, as they started to put up a modern subdivision nearby. However, Aucoin refused the offer, saying the farm had been a family tradition and way of life for more than a century.

That area was rezoned in 2012 to become a residential area.

But Brake-Patten said in the last two weeks of fact-finding work, she discovered an exemption that saves Aucoin from the order issued by her council.

Gerard Aucoin's farm has been in his family since 1895. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Town plan changes several years ago don't apply to farms that were developed before town incorporation.

"We had enough evidence to say yes, this farm has been existing prior to the incorporation," she said.

"[The farm had] moved through generations of the family, and for that reason we had to do the right thing."

'Very grateful of the public pressure'

Brake-Patten said she's not sure why this information wasn't on council's radar at the first vote in March, before the vote was taken, and that's something she plans to investigate.

"We may not have been even looking for the proper information. I really can't speak to that. All I know is that I was not informed enough as mayor and as council, and so I had to do a lot of digging myself," she said.

"That's where the majority of information came in, was in the last two weeks."

The orders from Kippens council said the Aucoin farm had to get rid of its animals and sheds by June 2019. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Brake-Patten said the Aucoin farm will have to comply with the town's non-conforming rules, but will be able to keep their land as is.

"We could come back and [hold] our heads high and say we did make a decision in good faith, based on all the complications with lawyers and the facts that we saw," she said.

"But I'm very grateful of the public pressure because what that has done has really driven council to take a look at ourselves and say, you know what, we are all elected people."

With files from the CBC Newfoundland Morning Show

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