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Council steps forward on urban chicken bylaw

Amendment allows residents to keep poultry on any residential lot

City of Powell River council has passed the initial readings of a bylaw amendment that will allow residents to keep poultry in their backyards.

The amendment to the animal control bylaw permits the keeping, in an appropriate enclosure, of up to three poultry in all single family and duplex lots in the city. The bylaw defines poultry as a domestic fowl, duck, goose, turkey and similar domestic birds.

The city has been discussing the issue for about three years. Councillors passed the first and second readings of the bylaw amendment without discussion at the September 20 council meeting.

Mayor Dave Formosa alone voted in opposition to the readings.

He told the Peak he had two reasons for voting against it. He said he believes a lot should be at least half an acre, no smaller. “I think you need to have a decent chunk of property to house chickens and rabbits,” he said.

The second reason is that both the city’s senior bylaw officers, who recently retired, did not support the amendment. “They cited all kinds of issues and problems that will arise from the chickens on smaller city lots,” Formosa said.

During previous discussions on the bylaw, some organizations and societies the city contacted had concerns about predators, pests, secure containment and the humane keeping of animals. Conservation officers expressed concerns about the potential increase in conflicts with bears.

Supporters, however, see local food production as being central to the drive to become a more sustainable community.

A public hearing will be held starting at 6 pm on Thursday, October 18 at city hall. The public can attend the meeting or make their opinions known through written submissions.

All organizations that provided comments in the past will be invited to update their submissions. Some of the organizations include the Powell River Farmers’ Institute, Conservation Office, local SPCA and Vancouver Coastal Health.