By Richard Bell
The fight to allow Robin Clayton to continue to keep his horse Angel at his home on East Petpeswick Road may be headed for a final decision at the January 12, 2023, meeting of the Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council. Clayton applied for a variance to allow him to keep the horse last spring, and HRM’s Planning Department recently rejected his request, forcing him to make a final appeal to the Community Council.
Since HRM began the process leading to the order to remove the horse, more than 7,000 people have signed an online petition to allow him to keep the horse at home. Friends of Angel on East Petpeswick have already begun to organize to persuade the Community Council to allow Clayton to keep the horse at home by rejecting the Planning Department’s refusal of a variance.
Clayton brought Angel to East Petpeswick back in 2015. In his December 10, 2022, letter of appeal to the Community Council, Clayton explained, “I worked with horses 30 years ago. After my wife died in 2013, I started working at a farm in Gaetz Brook, where I met Angel. Angel is a registered Tennessee Walker who the owner rescued. She had never been ridden. (I broke her to saddle after I brought her to my home.) When the owner asked if I would like to buy her, I couldn’t say no.”
Clayton built a small 12 x 16 barn and a small corral next to his house. Angel has since become a part of the community. Clayton takes her for her daily walks up and down East Petpeswick, where she feasts on the newest available grass, and delights children who come down to the road to see her and feed her the occasional apple.
The community response last spring to the threat to remove Angel was immediate. East Petpeswick resident Shawn Shute quickly threw up a petition on Change.org, where he summarized how people felt about this latest intrusion of urban policy in this rural community: “The Eastern Shore is a vast area with different and individual qualities that are unique. As a resident, I have joined in with the actions of our community, and our Facebook page members, in creating this petition, both to plead Mr. Clayton's case, and to ask for you to show your support by signing this petition. Angel is a beloved member of our community, representing a rescued life and a kind-hearted owner.” As of December 11, 2022, 7,124 people had signed this petition.
Under HRM zoning law, the 5-member Community Council has the final say over whether to accept or reject HRM Planning’s decision to reject Clayton’s request for a zoning variance to keep Angel home. Supporters of Clayton and Angel are encouraging people to contact all their friends who live in any of the five districts and ask them to vote to overturn HRM Planning’s decision and allow Angel to stay on East Petpeswick. They are also asking people to go to the Change.org site (“I Ride with Angel”) to share their support and leave their own comments.
Here is a list of the five City Council members of the Halifax East-Marine Drive Community Council with their phone numbers and email addresses. Clicking on the District link will show you the boundaries of their districts.
David Hendsbee, District 2—Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore, Call: 902.483.0705 Email: [email protected]
Becky Kent, District 3—Dartmouth South-Eastern Passage, Call: 902.478.5368, Email: [email protected]
Trish Purdy, District 4—Cole Harbour—Westphal, Call: 902.240.3067, Email: [email protected]
Sam Austin (Deputy Mayor), District 5—Dartmouth Centre, Call: 902-579-6814, Email: [email protected]
Tony Mancini, District 6-Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East, Call: 902-292-4823, Email: [email protected]
The Cooperator will be reporting on additional developments for this story on its Facebook page and its website.