KAMLOOPS - Six hens are being allowed to roost at their Heffley Creek home a little longer thanks to some chicken-loving council members.
Lyann Wourms lives in a semi-rural area in Heffley Creek. Her property backs onto a large treed portion of crown land and about a year ago she brought home six laying hens. She has not had any problems until recently, when she says one neighbour blamed a foul smell permeating the air on her chickens. She says the smell was not coming from her yard, but a nearby farm spreading manure on fields.
The neighbour called city bylaw officers and Wourms was presented with a non-compliance letter on May 1, demanding she get rid of her illegal chickens within a few weeks. Tuesday she asked council for more time but she didn’t bank on the accommodating nature of some councillors to help her keep her chickens.
“I’m asking for more time… a few months. I wouldn’t want to have to kill them,” she said. “I would love to keep them, they’re just awesome, but I wouldn’t want to continue to break the law. I would get rid of them if I have to, but I really don’t want to.”
A few council members focused on the first part of her request, the couple months. The rest decided to go beyond the request and allow the hens to remain with Wourms, at least until the Urban Agriculture Committee has made a recommendation on whether urban animals should be supported in Kamloops. The action items from that report won’t come forward until next year.
Coun. Ken Christian offered up a motion of delaying enforcement action until July 31 but Coun. Tina Lange immediately piped up looking for even more.
“I would support that if we couldn’t do something even better,” she said in proposing the extended delay. “We may possibly decide it’s great to have a few hens on your property.”
Coun. Pat Wallace, who from the start has shared her dislike for urban chickens, was one of three council members not willing to support waiting on the committee to bring a report forward. (Wallace, Christian and Mayor Peter Milobar voted against the amendment.)
“I hope we don’t get a recommendation for chickens in the city,” Wallace said back in December when council was setting the terms for the urban agriculture committee. Though on Tuesday she appeared more apprehensive about how many more people will come forward if this one was allowed. “This is just the tip of the iceberg…. This is just an invitation if we support this amendment for people who have chickens, and we all know people who do.”
“I’m not sure why anyone at this table would say a mistake was made and you’ve broken a bylaw but that’s okay,” she continued.
In the end council voted 5-3 in favour of allowing Wourm’s to keep her hens at least until a report comes forward in 2015, though if she receives more complaints the issue will be brought to council for reconsideration. Her property, considered on the outskirts of town and semi-rural by many of the council members, is more than 20,000 sq. ft.
The allowance to keep the hens is limited to the six current hens and site specific to avoid a rush of other ‘secretive’ hen owners coming before council asking for the same forgiveness.
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