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Officials optimistic circuses will return to the Sault, without animals

'It is a challenge to attract these types of shows to the community without paying an upfront fee' - Brent Lamming
2017-09-15 Vague de Cirque DMH-6
Vague de Cirque at The Machine Shop on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Donna Hopper/SooToday

Animal-free circuses are hard to lure to Sault Ste. Marie, but City Council will learn Monday that attracting the events here remains a priority for city-owned venues like GFL Memorial Gardens.

Last May, councillors voted to ban animal exhibitions featuring dogs, horses and other domestic animals, effectively limiting the city to animal-free circuses.

Brent Lamming, the city's director of community services, cautions in a report to Mayor Provenzano and City Council that "it is a challenge to attract these types of shows to the community without paying an upfront fee."

"The best opportunity to secure this type of show is when they are on a Canadian tour with a potential stop in Sault Ste. Marie," Lamming said.

But Lamming said there definitely are animal-free circus-like events: including Cirque de Soleil, Blue Man Group and David Copperfield.

"Staff remains committed to attracting diverse entertainment options as a part of our annual objectives," Lamming said.

"We will continue to follow up with promoters and colleagues in the industry as opportunities arise to attract shows that have a focus on acrobats, clowns, dancers, magicians and jugglers."

Municipal Heritage Award

Also on Monday, the 2018 Municipal Heritage Award will be presented to Chris Tossell, recognizing his "leadership in the preservation and conservation of built heritage in Sault Ste. Marie."

The Sault Ste. Marie Municipal Heritage Committee will also recognize Jean-Marie Wissell and Christine Viens for "their dedication and efforts to preserve and enhance the cultural history of French-Canadian community."

Extinction Rebellion

Monday's City Council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

Before the cameras are turned on, a group of local members of the global Extinction Rebellion movement is planning to sing a Valentine's Week message in the council chambers.

The Extinction Rebellion Sault (XRSault) members, including former Green Party candidate Kara Flannigan, are hoping to persuade City Council to declare a climate-change emergency.

They have attended City Council meetings on Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 and 5, silently holding up placards in the visitor's gallery.

The movement's Canadian website advises that a national declaration of rebellion will be made next week and "we will be coordinating acts of civil disobedience from coast-to-coast to communicate the climate emergency we are facing."

Its Ontario GoFundMe page is seeking $3,000 to "allow Ontario cities to set the stage and disrupt economic activity through swarming roadblocks, taking bridges, and other escalating, non-violent methods."

An action consensus developed by the international movement prohibits violence or use of drugs or alcohol during civil disobedience actions.

"We are rebelling against extinction because our species and the many others we co-exist with are under threat," the document states.

An Extinction Rebellion handbook on swarming tactics warns about the possibility of criminal charges.

"We need to be aware that we’ll come under attack," the handbook states.

"If the system is seriously threatened then it will fight back. The people losing profits will hate us. The media will demonise us. The people in the street may resist us."

"We might be called terrorists.... At the same time we need to hold the awareness that these things are occurring within an insane and suicidal system. We are the ones who are the bringers of hope. We are the ones who will pry open the darkness to let the light in. We are the ones who give an outlet for years and decades of despair and depression. And we do so with love."


David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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