June 15, 2016 - 6:23 AM
KAMLOOPS - Residents of Kamloops are now allowed to have a flock of chickens, though not too large.
After years of discussion, council amended a bylaw so lots as small as 370 square meters will be allowed to have between two and five hens. The amendment will come into effect June 21. City council approved the amendment at a public hearing last night, June 14.
Councillors Donovan Cavers, Dieter Dudy, Tina Lange, Arjun Singh, Marg Spina and Denis Walsh voted in favour of the motion, while Mayor Peter Milobar along with councillors Ken Christian and Pat Wallace remained against.
A full council chambers heard from supporters and opponents during the hearing. Both sides spoke about already living with hens as a reality, because some Kamloops residents have had hens for years, despite the bylaw.
Concerns brought up by opponents included noise, smell and attracting predators.
Frank Ritcey of Wildsafe B.C. spoke to council, advocating that electric fences be required to keep bears at bay. While council took an interest in the idea, it was not added to the final bylaw.
“All I was hoping is that electric fencing would become a requirement and not just a recommendation,” he says. “The issue is as long as you leave it up for people's discretion, then the issue becomes people usually don’t put it in until it’s too late.”
“If people decide they want to get chickens and they want to protect them I think they’ll get an electric fence,” Lange said.
Wallace and Milobar both suggested the lot size in the bylaw was too small.
“I wouldn’t object to a half acre getting a chicken,” Wallace said.
Bylaw enforcement of rules regarding chickens was also a concern for Wallace, though Lange suggested hens would be a drop in the bucket compared to dogs. Councillors also disagreed on how fast and many people would build home coops.
When Singh spoke in favour of the motion, he acknowledged urban hens weren’t without concerns, but put his faith in the city’s ability to educate its residents.
“I think it is a net plus,” he said. “I always put a lot of stock in the education campaigns.”
City also approved up to $10,000 for bylaw to build a holding place for chickens and training for its officers.
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