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Council meeting adjourned as debate over Cook Park aviary becomes heated

December 6, 2022

Councillor Mel McDonell (right) leaves the chamber on Tuesday night.

By David Fitzsimons

The Cook Park bird aviary has been saved from demolition after heated debate at Orange City Council’s meeting on Tuesday night.

Councillors left the meeting for about 10 minutes after councillor Mel McDonell called for an adjournment soon after saying “this is a bit bullying” as she tried to speak to the meeting.

Councillor Jeff Whitton repeatedly asked for McDonell to state whether she was for or against a motion calling for the removal of the aviary, saying it was a necessary part of council meeting procedure.

“There are rules in the chamber,” he said.

McDonell said she was attempting to provide background on the issue, which dates back to a 2013 report recommending the aviary’s removal as part of a masterplan to upgrade the historic park.

“The reason I was giving the background is I feel that it’s been seized upon by some in the community as a way of drumming up support, and I understand that,” she said.

However, after other interjections, including from the public gallery, and calls for the committee meeting chair councillor David Mallard to rule on the matter, McDonell said: "Can I please ask that we have a short adjournment."

Council CEO David Waddell then suggested the councillors to leave the chamber and go to the mayor's office.

When councillors returned after the adjournment McDonell said she would support an amendment to retain the aviary.

Councillor Kevin Duffy led calls to save the aviary and said the Orange Bird Society should be involved in planning its future.

He said it was a well-loved feature of the park that appealed to people of all ages.

Duffy said councillors “would get hammered” by the community if they agreed to remove the aviary.

It is planned council will look at options for the future of an aviary in Cook Park, including moving it to another site, become a ‘walk-through aviary’ or remain as it is.

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