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Not everyone in Kamloops is thrilled to have urban hens as neighbours

FILE PHOTO - A hen feeds near a coop in Victoria, B.C., Tuesday May 3, 2016.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
June 10, 2016 - 10:30 AM

KAMLOOPS - With Kamloops city council set to debate urban hens at next week's public hearing, not all residents like the idea of a flock of feathered neighbours.

James and Linda Rosengren, a retired Sahali couple, have lived next to five chickens for about a year. The couple, who've been in their home for 37 years, say the birds have been bad news for their block.

Linda says they’ve complained to the city, but bylaw officers haven’t been able to do anything, aside from removing a rooster, as council hasn't decided on bylaw ammendments after complaints two years ago about chickens at a Heffley Creek residence. The couple recently submitted a letter to city opposing allowing backyard chickens and the proposed bylaw changes.

“I just don’t think the lot is big enough,” Linda says. “I don’t think the city is the place for chickens, unless it’s an acreage.”

Coun. Pat Wallace has heard about the chickens in the Rosengren's area and repeatedly spoken against urban hens coming to Kamloops.

“I don’t see a lot in the city being smaller than a half acre accommodating chickens or a good coop,” she says. “They poop all over the place and they smell. And you get mice and rats.”

She’s also concerned about increased responsibilities for bylaw officers.

“We have enough problems with bylaw trying to round up dogs and cars and people without adding chickens to the list,” she says.

The couple says the chickens have brought a host of issues, including vermin, bad odours and noise.

“Up until the chickens arrived I never had a mouse. I’ve had three this year and two or three last year,” James says.

Last summer the couple says when it got hot they couldn’t go outside because the smell was so bad, and while a rooster was taken away in the fall by bylaw officers, noise is still an issue.

“It starts at three in the morning,” James says. “Between three and four.”

The chickens have also tossed debris into the Rosengren’s yard, escaped from their owner’s property on multiple occasions and may be responsible for larger animals visiting the area, which backs onto a gorge.

“The last two weeks we’ve had two bears here. Whether it’s related to the chickens, I can’t vouch for that, but we’ve had bears which we’ve never had before,” James says. “We’ve had coyotes, too. This is all in the last couple months.”

The Rosengren’s have spoken to other neighbours about the hens, and say almost all are unhappy with the flock.

The public hearing on urban hens is scheduled for June 14 at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The city’s agenda for the hearing has submissions from Wildsafe B.C. and the Interior Health Authority.

The Wildsafe B.C letter says the organization supports local food security, but farm animals should be in enclosures with electric fences. Wildsafe B.C. coordinator Frank Ritcey says electric fences are the only way to keep bears away from animals like urban hens. A recommendation from city staff in a report about urban hens is that electric fences not be required.

The health authority neither supports or opposes the hens, but does bring up some health concerns and suggestions.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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