The debate on backyard chickens returned to City Council on Monday evening, with Council receiving two petitions (one online and one handwritten) in favour with a total of 334 signatures. Council also received a collection of emails received from citizens, with 16 letters against backyard chickens and five for. The request for backyard chickens originated last June when Rob Palermo approached Council to speak on the subject.
He told Council that his family had decided to try to provide themselves with as much food as possible that they knew to be healthy, safe and clean from any unnatural products, pesticides and or chemicals. They planted fruit trees, built a greenhouse and planted a garden. At the time, he and his family had both backyard chickens for eggs and rabbits for meat.
“We have taken appropriate measures to ensure our choice of raising these animals will not be affecting our neighbors and believe the measures taken would fall into guidelines set up by other neighbouring cities like Nelson and Invermere,” he told Council.
At the time, he promised to return to provide further information and indication of support for the idea.
Palermo told Council that other jurisdictions such as Victoria, Kaslo and Invermere did allow backyard chickens.
“The health and safety of our food system is deteriorating,” Palermo said. “If we desire to provide healthy food for ourselves, as long as it’s not affecting anyone else, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
He also said that since he’d had to get rid of his chickens he notices so much more waste going to compost.
He said that he understood that Bear Aware would have concerns but said he didn’t think it would be a problem.
“We already have bear issues. I don’t think chickens would attract more.”
Palermo urged Council to host a townhall meeting so the community could have a discussion.
Mayor Ron McRae said that with Council only receiving some of the information that day — such as the package of feedback from citizens — a little more time would be required to look at it.
“We need to make an informed decision on whether to go to the community as a whole” McRae said. “It’s probably a little premature for a bylaw.”
Council also wants to do some research on communities who have had some success with backyard chickens as to how they manage them.
Kaslo, it was pointed out, had a requirement that backyard chickens be contained by an electric fence.
Council promised to contact Mr. Palermo with their thoughts on the matter, likely early in the new year, which Palermo agreed was reasonable.