Chicken issue to fly again at council meeting
A hugely contentious issue is once again going to take wing in an open city council meeting Sept. 6 – whether to allow urban poultry and bee-keeping within city limits.
The issue has come up in years past and drawn near-record crowds of community members to council chambers, both in support of, and opposition to, such a change (currently, residents are not allowed to keep poultry on their properties), and the motion was defeated repeatedly.
However, Councillor Deb McIntosh served notice at council’s regular meeting Monday evening that she would be once again bringing such a motion forward.
“It just makes sense to me,” said McIntosh, who has always supported allowing residents to raise poultry on their property. “We can’t talk about sustainability without going to the mat at least far enough to have the debate; to have an adult conversation about it.”
She said she felt the motion would garner more community support now that issues around environmental footprint and local food security have become front-and-centre in the area, particularly via social media, with venues like Farm the Kootenays (a popular Facebook page) sparking more conversation and awareness.
Meanwhile, a local resident who has been told by the city that he cannot keep the chickens he raises as pets after a neighbour reported him to city bylaw enforcement, has started an online petition asking the city to reconsider its current stance (see http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/legalize-the-birds-and-bees ).
McIntosh said she thinks the situation has become “silly”.
“It’s a chicken, not an elephant,” she said, adding she has no intention of promoting a free-for-all without any regulations or due diligence. “As with anything, there will be bylaws and rules in place, and there will be a trial project.
“Penticton, for example, has a very stringent process (for allowing poultry husbandry within city limits). There’s more to it than meets the eye.”
She added they are not considering larger animals such as goats or pigs at this time.
She said council’s Planning and Development Committee, of which she and fellow-councillor Florio Vassilakakis are co-chair and chair, respectively, have a comprehensive proposal they’ll be bringing forward for council’s consideration. (Vassilakakis will be vacationing in Greece at the time, but will be attending the meeting via telephone/internet from Greece.)
Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff has made it clear she intends to support the motion as well, and has been a vocal supporter of allowing urban poultry since she was elected.
“If we’re going to preach about sustainability, our actions have to match that,” Heaton-Sherstobitoff said.
The motion will be brought forward at council’s regular meeting on Sept.6 at 7 p.m. at the Community Forum across from City Hall.