Edward River councillors are expected to determine the future of the Deniliquin Waring Gardens peacock enclosure at this Thursday’s council meeting.
The councillors have been provided with three potential options — to upgrade the enclosure to minimum requirements, upgrade with an expansion or remove it.
In the report to be tabled this week, council general manager Adam McSwain recommends councillors ‘‘resolve on a preferred option for the aviary in Waring Gardens’’.
As one of three petitioners against council’s initial preferred option to remove the peacocks and their enclosure, Deniliquin’s Gus McKinnon is urging councillors to take note of the weight of numbers in the debate.
According to council’s report, Mr McKinnon’s petition gained signatures from 756 people who want to see the enclosure kept.
Separate petitions collected another 185 and 500 signatures respectively supporting the enclosure.
Council has indicated another five individual submissions supporting retention were also received during the public exhibition period.
Another seven individual submissions were received supporting the removal of the enclosure, as well as a petition with 150 signatures against the exhibition of the exotic birds.
In his report, Mr McSwain says the five main topics out of the submission for council to consider included cost, welfare, sentimental value, economic and social value, and regulatory compliance.
If council does choose to retain the aviary, it will be required to have staff trained in Certificate III Captive Animals.
To meet minimum requirements identified when council attempted to obtain an exhibition licence with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the minimum cost for upgrades alone is estimated at $30,000.
In addition, annual food and care costs are estimated to increase from $6000 a year to $10,000 a year.
Mr McSwain said an enclosure expansion to aid in tourism is estimated at $150,000, which he said ‘‘should be sufficient to allow for some beautification works to the aviary, additional wayfinding, and educational signage to be installed’’ while highlighting that no designs or official costings had been completed.
The removal of the aviary is costed at $15,000, and would include heritage approval, Mr McSwain has outlined. He said if councillors chose this option, expressions of interest to re-home the birds would be undertaken.
Asked to query the NSW Department of Primary Industries on community suggestions regarding a volunteer management committee for the enclosure, Mr McSwain said advice received is that it would be more suitable to remain a council responsibility.
‘‘Advice received was that in other areas, these community management models have worked okay for short periods of time, however, often there is confusion regarding who ends up with sole accountability if something goes wrong and that there have been examples where community interest has dropped off after a period of time,’’ Mr McSwain said in his report.
‘‘If council were to pursue this option (upgrade to minimum requirement), it is recommended that council staff still undertake the required training to ensure we are able to oversee the facility and support any community members.’’
Thursday’s council meeting will be held at the Deniliquin Chambers, at the customer service centre in Cressy St, from 9am.