Royal swans in substandard shelter until 2013

Ottawa's royal swan program will continue to operate in an old, ragged south Ottawa wooden home for at least another year after a staff report was delayed.

Ottawa councillor gives staff more time citing expensive new home for swan program

The royal swans have been housed in a south Ottawa wooden shack for the past 45 years but the building is past its life cycle. (CBC)

Ottawa's royal swans will continue to live in a below-standard winter shelter for at least another year as city officials say the long-term solution is too expensive.

The birds' winter home in south Ottawa is now four years past its life cycle and needs to be replaced.

The swans, descendants of six pairs of mute swans presented to the city in 1967 by the Queen to mark Canada's centennial, spend their summers on the Rideau River but winter at a building on Leitrim Road animal rights activists have decried as inadequate.

The building's roof is sagging and a chain-link fence near a large, rusty garbage bin gates in the animals.

Coun. Mark Taylor, chairman of the community and protective services committee, is responsible for the royal swan portfolio.

Partner needed for shelter

He said staff will have another year to decide on the swans' future as a new home is estimated at $350,000, which is too expensive for the city to tackle alone.

The south Ottawa home for the swans will continue to shack up the birds until 2013 at the very least. (CBC)

Taylor added the committee is "holding the staff's feet to the fire" to have a solid report in 2013.

"We just want to make sure we do it in a responsible fashion — good for the swans and good for the books," Taylor told the CBC's Giacomo Panico.

"We would probably be better served by a nicer facility, but it certainly operates within more than acceptable parameters."

The only choice for the city, Taylor continued, is to make small renovations to the facility because neither a community partner nor a corporation has come forward to fund the new facility.

If staff can't find a partner for the city, this might mean the royal swans will only have one more summer left in the nation's capital after almost 50 years.