The Town of Lake Cowichan wants to know how residents feel about allowing chickens in backyards.
The town is currently conducting a non-binding poll of qualified electors in the community on the issue until Nov. 19.
Acting Mayor Tim McGonigle said a delegation recently appeared before council with a petition with approximately 500 signatures asking that Lake Cowichan allow backyard chickens for the first time.
He said that while council is not sure if all the signatures on the petition are from residents of the town, a decision was made to conduct a straw poll of the town’s qualified electors to determine if there is interest in permitting backyard chickens in residential zones within the municipality.
“Our poll is a simple question; yes or no to permitting backyard chickens,” McGonigle said.
“If we find that there is enough interest in allowing chickens, then the issue will move forward and be discussed by the town’s finance and administration committee to determine the next steps forward.”
It’s not the first time the issue of allowing backyard chickens has been raised in Lake Cowichan.
In 2015, Becca Shears also presented council with a petition with approximately 400 signatures asking that the town’s bylaws be changed to allow backyard chickens, but the initiative ended up going nowhere.
It was Shears’ second attempt to urge the town to change its bylaws to allow chickens, after her first unsuccessful efforts two years before.
McGonigle said that while the town’s bylaws have never allowed chickens in the backyards in residential areas, it’s known there are several people in these areas of the community who have them anyway.
He said that while current bylaws prohibit residents from keeping chickens, they are only enforced by complaint.
McGonigle said if, based on the results of the poll, the town decides to move forward to changing its bylaws to allow chickens, the number of chickens that will be allowed, and other issues, will be determined at a later date.
He said only qualified electors on the most current available provincial list of voters prepared under the Election Act for the Town of Lake Cowichan, or those eligible to be registered in the provincial list, may complete the poll form.
The ballots are available at the Municipal Office at 39 South Shore Rd., or on the town’s website at www.lakecowichan.ca/dl/Referendum.pdf.