Council leaves next step to chicken owners

Chickens are not officially coming to Lake Cowichan backyards any time soon.

Chickens are not officially coming to Lake Cowichan backyards any time soon.

Town councillors, at their Sept. 8 finance and administration committee meeting, decided that if people in the town want hens they need to make an application themselves to change the bylaw.

Coun. Tim McGonigle, committee chair, didn’t want the town taking the lead on the issue.

“If it’s implemented by those with the backyard chicken owners, I feel that there’s ownership taken on that process. If it’s a council initiative, there’s a sense of entitlement,” he said, adding that he had no problem himself with backyard fowl.

Both Mayor Ross Forrest and Coun. Bob Day agreed that they didn’t want to see council acting for a special interest group.

Forrest said, “It’s not that I’m against chickens, because I’m not, but if people want us to change the bylaw to benefit them, I don’t think the taxpayers should be paying for it. That’s where I have an issue: there’s going to be a cost to us.

“I’m all for the taxpayers paying if it adds value for the community but I don’t think this is an issue that benefits the whole of the community. I think if they want chickens they should come forward with a proper application.”

Lake Cowichan CAO Joe Fernandez said the presentation made to council on Aug. 11 by Becca Sheers was similar to one made in 2013. Changes in the Zoning Bylaw and the Animal Control Bylaw would be required if council wanted to permit chickens in residential zones.

Fernandez firmly told councillors that passing bylaws that can’t be enforced may not be the way to go, noting that at the previous meeting the delegation suggested that permit fees could be set up for those wanting to have chickens.

“The establishment of fees and regulations may be the easy part. If we assume that the implementation of bylaws and regulations would simply result in better compliance and controls, we need to think again,” he said.

Fernandez said that enforcement “often comes at a steep price” and fees would not cover the expenses of enforcing the bylaw.

“We only need to look at the difficulties we often face with infractions relating to dogs and cases of irresponsible dog owners. It may come as a surprise that these very regulations are flouted by the very people you would expect to be law abiding and who may be requesting that chickens be now legally allowed.”

The CAO warned that making the illegal legal “may not be the panacea for the Town or the majority of its residents. Those who blatantly flout town bylaws and regulations will continue to do it unless the Town is willing to expend greater resources to ensure compliance with that which it permits in its bylaws,” he said.

Without enough town staff to patrol the problems, complaints end up on Fernandez’s own desk, he said.

“A lot of communities have taken this on. But the fact is they have capable people to deal with that and we don’t. There is a cost to it. You can do something but you have to decide what it is,” he said,

McGonigle said, “I would most definitely invite those that are for this to perhaps start this process, to get the public meetings going and perhaps see what actual support there is. I don’t think it’s quite fair that it’s put on the table for council to make a decision for perhaps 40 people when we’re talking of approximately 1,800 registered voters.”

McGonigle then called for some reply from council members.

“I think we should put it to bed so it doesn’t keep coming back,” McGonigle said.

The mayor said he thought the reply should “state that this is not something that council is initiating and leave it at that. If they want to initiate an application themselves, that’s up to them, without us going out and asking them to do it.”

The others agreed.

Just Posted

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

The province has come through with funding for Duncan Manor’s renewal project. (File photo)
Funding comes through for Duncan Manor’s renewal project

Money will come from the province’s Community Housing Fund

The former St. Joseph’s School site will remain an art studio at least into early next year. It will take some time before being converted to an addictions recovery community. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Addiction recovery facility will be all about building community together

Society on a clear path with members’ experiences to provide valuable help

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

Most Read