Online petition advocates for backyard hens in smaller Kelowna yards | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Online petition advocates for backyard hens in smaller Kelowna yards

Gaetan Benoit's children sit with hens Eggie and Eggo who they consider their family pets.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Gaetan Benoit
April 11, 2021 - 3:35 PM

A Kelowna family is advocating for bylaw changes that will allow backyard chickens in smaller yards.

Glenmore resident Gaetan Benoit started an online petition this week to change the city’s current urban hen bylaws after he and his family were visited by a bylaw officer who received a complaint about his coop.

Currently, his family has a chicken coop and two pet hens named Eggie and Eggo on their 0.22 acre property. City bylaws only permit up to 10 urban hens on lots larger than 0.5 acres in size.

“I grew up back in Europe and I had chickens when I was younger so it was always something that was in the back of my mind that I wanted my children to experience the same thing and we always believed it’s a healthy way to get food, to get eggs and to your children about nature," Benoit said.

"We believe it’s creating a positive impact in the community because there’s less transportation getting chickens in your own backyard, (they help create) fertilizer. You can reduce your amount of kitchen waste, so I don’t see many negative points with urban hens.”

A Kelowna family would like to see Kelowna's bylaw changed regarding urban hens.
A Kelowna family would like to see Kelowna's bylaw changed regarding urban hens.
Image Credit: Change.org/Gaetan Benoit

They've had chickens for the last year and talked to their neighbours before building a chicken coop, he said, so they were surprised to get a visit from a bylaw officer Tuesday, April 6.

They were aware of the bylaws, but Benoit said it was a risk they decided to take as many others have backyard hens in Kelowna and haven’t had any issues.

So far, the petition addressed to Kelowna city council has gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

“We know so many who’d like to have backyard chickens and we know so many people who have backyard chickens and they’re scared one day someone will knock on their door and say they have to get rid of them,” Benoit said.

Other municipalities in the region permit chickens on smaller lots. In Kamloops, residents can own up to five hens on single-family or duplex lot that is a minimum of 370 square metres in size (0.09 aces), has a fenced back yard and a regulation coop. In Vernon, up to four chickens can be kept on residential properties.

The Kelowna petition has gathered signatures from across the country, he said.

“I just want to show the city there’s a real interest right now around the country and the region regarding this situation,” he said. “We have to be realistic at this time but we have hope.”

Last springtime, sellers saw an uptick in demand for backyard chickens due to the pandemic.

READ MORE: Self-isolation brings uptick for backyard chickens

His two daughters look after them and play with them and they’re seen as family pets, Benoit said.

“We don’t want the City of Kelowna to (allow) everything… We believe they should put be a limit on the number of chickens in the backyard. We believe roosters shouldn’t be permitted in residential areas and chicken coop owners should do proper maintenance (to prevent) odours. We believe regulation is a good thing. We don’t want the chicken business to be the wild west.”

Benoit hopes to present an argument for bylaw changes to the city and is asking for others who are in the same boat to contact him via email.

Dave Gazley, bylaw services manager with the city, said this is the first time he’s been made aware of the issue with backyard chickens and hasn’t seen any complaints on them this week.

Benoit's backyard hen petition can be found on Change.org.

 


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