Terry Stanislaw knew she was not in compliance with the town's bylaws when she acquired a third horse about two-and-a-half year's ago. But knowing how much her neighbours enjoy seeing the animals in her paddock, along with the fact that she and husband Dave Baker maintain a neat property, Stanislaw said she really did not anticipate any issues.
"We knew at the time that of course there was a bylaw issue," she said, adding, however, "We never imagined that there would be a complaint."
Stanislaw said she had hoped to convince council during a meeting Thursday evening of the need to maintain three horses for her business - Equine Services - which involves equine-assisted learning and equine-assisted therapies for individuals dealing with symptoms that range from physical to mental and/or emotional issues.
"So the idea is, we work the health-care professionals to find out what the patient/client's needs are," she said. Specific programs are then designed to be relevant to each group involved.
A Stewiacke bylaw restricts the number of horses that can be housed on an individual property at one per acre. Stanislaw's property is 1.8 acres, which meant she had to lease a portion of a neighbour's property to remain in compliance when she had two horses. The third horse put her well outside the bylaw and following a complaint received by the town last year, she was given notice that one horse had to go.
"We have absolutely no idea who it was or why," she said of the complaint. "It's just very sad. It seems like a person who is completely unaffected by us or our activity has sort of gone out of their way to start this entire process."
Stanislaw hires local youth to help with the barn chores and other aspects of looking after her horses, a factor she said has won praise from various parents because of the positive impact it has had on their children.
"We mentor them and they learn how to do a good job and how to wear protective equipment and how to keep a time sheet and show up on time and clean up their work space and keep in touch with us and be responsible," she said.
But operating with one less horse will mean a reduced income for the business as well as additional costs for having to board the animal at another location.
"It also doesn't allow us to have the flexibility that we need with the temperament and size of the horses," Stanislaw said. "It's been kind of frustrating and it's been disappointing and sad."
Whatever happens following the bylaw review, which will encompass a wider evaluation of the town's land use and zoning regulations and which could take more than a year to complete - Stanislaw said she definitely plans to continue on with the work she so passionately believes in.
"I am going to pursue it, whether it's here or not," she said. "This is my life's work."