Backyard chickens: Cobble Hill ready to revisit fowl question

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is considering changing the bylaw to allow backyard chickens on small lots in the village area

People who want to have backyard chickens on their properties in Cobble Hill Village, and those not in favour, will soon be able to have their say in a public hearing.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is considering changing the bylaw to allow backyard chickens on small lots in the village area in response to requests from many in the community who want the hens for their eggs, and sometimes the meat.

For resident Tracy Martin, having chickens in her backyard is mainly about food sustainability.

But she said it’s not just about having fresh eggs readily available, it’s also the fact that she knows exactly what the hens are being fed, and she has the ability to teach her kids about food sustainability in the era of the 100-mile diet.

Martin said concerns have been raised mainly about the smell the chickens create and that they can attract rats, but she said those issues can be dealt with if the owners keep the area clean.

“I have gotten some complaints on issues related to my hens that were completely false, but I’ve canvassed the neighbourhood and other areas and collected more than 500 signatures on a petition to allow backyard chickens in this area,” she said.

“As well as the eggs, my family has become attached to our girls and we have even named them. I’ll certainly be attending the public hearing when they decide on a date, and I expect many of my neighbours who also have chickens will also be there.”

Matteus Clement, the director for Cobble Hill on the CVRD, brought forth the issue at the latest board meeting on Aug. 10.

He said chickens are currently allowed on larger properties in Cobble Hill Village, but not on properties that are under one-third of an acre.

Clement said the fact that there are now some subdivisions in the area with small lots is causing problems for the increasing number of people, like Martin, who want to follow the latest trends around food security and sustainability.

“I decided that we need a community discussion on the issue,” he said.

“It was a thorny issue when the official community plan was prepared five years ago and it was dropped. But perceptions have changed since then, with a new emphasis on food security, so I felt it was time to revisit the issue.”