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BEPPLE: There’s probably chickens in your neighbourhood already

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
May 13, 2016 - 7:23 AM

There once was a gun registry, and soon there may be a chicken registry. At least in Kamloops.

The Canadian Firearms Registry was part of the Firearms Act. It required the registration of all restricted and prohibited firearms in Canada. It was introduced by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 1993 and then after repeated attempts, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper repealed registration of non-restrictive weapons and long guns in 2012.

Fast forward to 2016, in Kamloops, and substitute “Canadian Firearms Registry” with “Kamloops Chicken Registry”, and it pretty well sums up the situation of the proposed urban hen bylaw that’s going to public hearing in Kamloops. If Kamloops’ proposed bylaw passes in a few weeks, all chickens will be registered (by their owners because presumably chickens can’t do it on their own).

So it seems hens, but not guns, may soon be registered in Kamloops.

The upcoming public hearing will determine whether chickens can reside in the city of Kamloops, on typical city-sized lots.

The bylaw defines everything from the size of the chicken coop, to its location (backyard only and away from property lines, to the type of fencing required (with electricity to keep out marauding foxes, coyotes and cougars). There will even be a chicken pound for lost hens, since dogs and cats do not make good bunk mates for poultry.

Which sounds like a lot of fuss for a few feathered friends.

The issue of urban chickens in Kamloops has been around for quite a few years. There is desire by many to increase urban agriculture. If the bylaw to allow urban hens passes one might expect a flurry of activity. But I doubt it.

That’s because there are already chickens living in Kamloops. Many people who wanted chickens have already got them.

I have heard of chickens in Batchelor and Sahali, Downtown and the West End. No doubt there are chickens in many other locations around the city. I once had chickens as neighbours for years and didn’t know about it because they were so well behaved. So there could even be a chicken living in my neighbourhood right now and I don’t even know it.

Urban chickens are a lot like basement suites. Both are already in every part of Kamloops. They are almost always ‘illegal’ in that neither the chickens nor the basement suites comply with zoning. They fly below the radar. Their neighbours know of them (both the chickens and suites) but don’t say anything. As long as the basement suites and chickens don’t cause problems, people don’t call city bylaws to complain.

There are currently hundreds, if not thousands, of ‘illegal’ basements suites in the city. Only a few homeowners come to council for rezoning to comply. If no one complains, and that usually means no neighbour complains, then homeowners can keep their basement suite. Similarly, even without a chicken bylaw for Kamloops city lots, if no one complains to the city, then the chickens stay.

The new chicken bylaw, if it passes, won’t dramatically increase the number of chickens in Kamloops. But it will give people more confidence that even if someone complains, they can keep their hens.

I doubt there will be a dramatic increase in urban chickens if the Kamloops bylaw passes. Many people who wanted chickens already have them. Hopefully, for the chickens’ sake, people will upgrade their coops to comply with the new bylaw requirements (equally, one hopes basement suites are upgraded to meet fire codes too). And hopefully owners will register their chickens to safeguard lost or stolen hens.

A chicken registry, to help lost or stolen chickens be reunited with their owners, and out of the hands of bad guys like foxes, coyotes and cougars, could be a good thing. Pity we don’t have a gun registry anymore too.

— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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