Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More changes to bylaws for keeping chickens in the Greater Victoria area - this time Oak Bay

Council votes in favour of amending bylaw
Published: July 17, 2008 12:00 PM
Updated: July 17, 2008 1:19 PM

A fowl issue was raised at council Monday night.

After some debate, Oak Bay voted in favour of amending its bylaw regulating the keeping of chickens.

Doug Clarke made a request to council last month for a property line setback reduction that would allow him to keep chickens on his property. Even though his property meets the bylaw's minimum lot requirement, it doesn't fulfill the setback needed around a chicken coop to buffer it from all property lines.

On Monday, council agreed that reducing the setback from 7.6 metres to 6.1 metres would work not only for Clarke but for others in the municipality as well. Municipal staff were directed to prepare a bylaw amendment to go before council on Monday (July 21) for adoption.

"I think that's the direction we should be taking on as many fronts as possible," said Coun. Nils Jensen. "(Removing) barriers for people who are interested in doing everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint, this is just another way."

Coun. Pam Copley commended Clarke on his initiative and liked his idea of educating children about the food source.

"We've just really lost that connection and I think this is a really great opportunity to provide that," she said.

Even though Coun. Frank Carson supported the motion, he felt raising chickens would have a minimal effect on climate change and said suggesting otherwise was fiction.

"I (wanted) to hear what the neighbours had to say and, from what I gather, the letters that came in were overwhelming in support of this. And people that I've talked to ... were open-minded. So I'll support on that basis."

Clarke was happy with council's decision and plans to build a small coop to house three or four hens to produce eggs for his family.

"I'm just actually really relieved that one voice can make a difference," he said. "It's just nice that our decision for our family to be here was the right one, that we can live in a city that is forward thinking and can work with us to help our sustainable initiatives."

The keeping of chickens is not common in Oak Bay, with the municipality issuing only one permit over the past four years.

Clarke doesn't see the setback reduction resulting in a growth in the number of chickens in Oak Bay but believes council will receive requests for smaller lot sizes in the future.

Jensen plans to seek a future amendment to the bylaw widening the scope of where chickens can be kept and suggested that the minimum lot size be reduced to 557.4 square metres.

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