Up until a few years ago, Kimberley was free of Columba livia domestica, the domestic pigeon. But suddenly, you could spot one or two in town, and now you can seldom walk through the Platzl without seeing them.
The image of people tossing crumbs to pigeons is fairly iconic — picture St. Mark’s Square in Venice. But not everyone appreciates the presence of pigeons. At their regular Council meeting last week, Council was asked by a local business owner, Michelle Forbes, of City Bakery, to do something about people feeding pigeons in front of hers and a neighbouring business.
Forbes says feeding attracts more and more pigeons and they are becoming a problem.
“Initially there were three or four pigeons, which is not a problem, but as he has persisted feeding the pigeons every morning, this has grown to about 30 birds that have taken up roosting on the bakery roof and surrounding roofs. This is a health issue, as the large number of birds leave bird feathers and droppings, with feathers ending up inside of food establishments, which could actually have businesses shut down.”
Forbes told Council she had spoken with the bylaw officer and City staff, but doesn’t feel there is a satisfactory solution yet.
She believes pigeons should be added to Kimberley’s Do Not Feed Wildlife Bylaw.
Mayor Don McCormick says Council had quite the discussion about where pigeons fell into the city’s wildlife bylaw.
“How broad is the bylaw? We’re going to review that,” he said. “At the end of the day, people know you shouldn’t feed pigeons.
“There is not a lot a municipality can do to stop something people know they shouldn’t do. But if you see it, speak up. Peer pressure associated with behaviour can have an affect.”
McCormick says there are a lot of restaurants in the Platzl, many with outdoor patios.
“People eat outside, crumbs are dropped. If there’s less of that, the pigeons will go away. It may not be a major issue, but we’ll pay attention.”
However, McCormick says there is a broader aspect to this beyond pigeons or deer, and that’s the notion that if there’s a behaviour you don’t like, the city has to stop it.
“There is no way one bylaw officer can cover everything,” he said. “Our bylaw enforcement does respond to complaints coming through. It’s the only realistic thing we can do and for the most part it works well.”