Local resident cries fowl over chicken bylaw

Are you aware that the keeping of backyard hens is a bylaw violation?

An open letter to the town of Lake Cowichan

Are you aware that the keeping of backyard hens is a bylaw violation? We are looking for your support in changing this bylaw.

We fail to see how keeping a few hens negatively impacts anyone else. It hardly encourages neighbourly relations to be overly concerned with what other residents are doing on their own property .

If it pleases our family to keep hens, why should someone else’s disinterest in them mean that it is a banned practice?

Bylaw amendments to include the keeping hens within city limits are nothing new. According to several online sources, nine large Canadian cities (and countless small ones) have already successfully repealed the bylaw to allow for chickens. They include, but are not limited to: Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, Guelph, Niagra Falls, New Westminster, Burnaby, Gibsons, Surrey, and Kingston .

We have found reference to over 96 cities in the United States that currently allow chicken keeping in backyards including, but not limited to Boston, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, and New York city.

According to an article online in the Nanaimo News Bulletin, Nanaimo relaxed their poultry laws after a one year trial run during which only two complaints were lodged and both were reported to have been easily resolved.

We propose that the Town of Lake Cowichan enter a trial period of no less than one year, beginning immediately. The bylaws can then be revisited based on public input during and after the trial period.

Why keep hens?

1. Chickens provide fresh local food for daily consumption.

2. Chickens create nitrogen rich fertilizer which can be used in gardens, therefore eliminating the need to purchase chemical versions.

The reduction of waste is two fold, the first being no packaging to dispose of, and the second being a reduced carbon footprint due to the removal of the processing, packaging and delivery of commercial varieties.

3. A reduction in municipal waste. Chickens will gladly consume table scraps that would otherwise end up in a landfill or a compost bucket.

4. Keeping chickens educates family members on the food chain and responsible pet ownership.

5. Food security on Vancouver Island is a big concern. Vancouver Island produces only five per cent of the food we consume. In the event of a major catastrophe there is said to be only two to three days worth of food on the Island. Keeping hens that provide fresh eggs is a simple grassroots way to quell some food security concerns.

6. Chickens eat bugs and large hens even eat mice, eliminating the need for chemical pest control measures.

7. Chickens make great pets and contrary to popular misconception are not loud. Roosters on the other hand are noisy and should be reserved for acreages.

Consider for a moment that the issue of backyard hens is not even really about whether or not you think someone else should be allowed to have a few hens but rather how much authority you think local municipalities should have in regulating the daily goings on in your own back yard.

Imagine a local municipality telling you that you can’t  have a family pet, a dog for example. Many people dislike dogs: they can bite, they bark, they poop, they wander, yelp and whine when the town siren goes off. Even people who dislike dogs would never vote for a bylaw prohibiting them.

We need to respect each others’ differences and trust that we are all making positive choices for ourselves, our families, and our community.

Airiane Rogers

Lake Cowichan