Today’s Poll

Council prepares to hatch debate on chickens

Nelson Daily Editor
By Nelson Daily Editor
March 9th, 2011

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

Chicken is back on the menu for City council as they prepare to discuss the keeping and nurturing of poultry within city limits next month.

Coun. Kim Charlesworth asked City staff and council to pick up where they left off in the debate from December, 2009, when they tabled voting on the issue of preparation of an amendment to the animal regulation and control bylaw to allow for the keeping of hens in the city.

At the time, it was felt by some councilors the issues of noise, disposal of waste and the general annoyance of backyard chickens had not fully been addressed.

As well, some councilors thought it would be extraneous to ask staff to do more research on a topic that would not contribute greatly to Nelson’s sustainability, and would be better served to focus efforts on something of greater impact, such as broadening the scope of the city’s farmer’s markets.

However, Coun. Charlesworth felt the process needed to engaged and she introduced a notice of motion Monday to begin the conversation.

City staff was directed to prepare an amendment to the animal control bylaw to allow the keeping of hens within the city of Nelson.

“The only issue was raised at the time in the research was on the disposal of the (chickens),” she said.

The item will appear on the agenda of the next regular meeting in April where it will be discussed.


Background from Dec. 11, 2009

City council can’t decide which comes first, the chickens or the eggs.

Although city council agrees having locally raised eggs is a good thing and a part of community sustainability, they are hesitant to approve the animal control bylaw amendment needed to hatch them into legality.

Days after council’s ruling to table the animal control bylaw amendment on allowing chickens in urban backyards, disappointment in the decision has caused some to question why council saw the sky as falling and hedged on beginning the bylaw amendment process, requesting more research instead.

Councillor Kim Charlesworth, a proponent on council for the inclusion of chickens in the animal control bylaw, felt any concerns about chickens in Nelson backyards were addressed in the research already done.

“I think the tabling of the motion shows a resistance to providing some leadership on what’s really a fairly straightforward issue,” she sad. “It doesn’t need to take the amount of time it is being suggested it is going to take. I think it’s time to take a vote and let’s do this.”

For poultry advocate Valerie Sanderson, keeping chickens was something she has been doing for the past eight months. Although she has just sold her birds to a Bonnington resident, Sanderson was disappointed but not disheartened by council’s decision Monday night.

For months people in Nelson like herself have been keeping chickens and enjoying locally raised eggs, she said. There have been no complaints from neighbours of noise, smell or increasing frequency of predators.

Although she was impressed with the amount of work having been done by City staff on the bylaw amendment, Sanderson thought councillors’ fears of allowing chickens were unfounded.

“So many people think chickens are legal now anyways,” she said. “I highly recommend it. But as long as it gets done by spring, that’s what matters.”

There are some significant hurdles to overcome before then.

Councillor Robin Cherbo was openly opposed to the idea of harbouring chickens within the municipal confines of Nelson. Having grown up on a farm, he said the noise, smell and nuisance of chickens — attracting predators — is greater than any benefit received from gaining a few fresh eggs.

“I just think it is going to be like opening Pandora’s Box,” he said.

Mayor John Dooley wondered why the keeping of chickens was disallowed in the first place. City director of corporate services Linda Tynan said most municipalities had disallowed them in the past because of the reasons of pest control and other factors which Cherbo brought up.

As the debate Monday night was drawn out, and more questions to investigate were heaped on City staff, Mayor Dooley began to question the time needed to craft the bylaw amendment.

“If this is our contribution to sustainability, putting chickens in backyards, I think there are many other areas where we can really make an impact,” he said. “I think this is going to take as much time as some other ideas that could really have an impact on sustainability.”

He said staff resources are limited at best.

“If we would have taken the same amount of time tonight to get behind the farmer’s market as we have taken to put chickens in the backyard, we would have actually made an impact on sustainability.”

— Timothy Schafer

Categories: GeneralIssues


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