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Backyard-chicken bylaw poses a limit of six hens

City council will soon hatch a new backyard-chicken bylaw allowing six birds, Councillor Sharon Jackson explained of roost rules that have riled some folks.

Duncanite Dave Mayo cited a city survey indicating the majority of respondents rejected the idea of backyard chickens.

“Why are councillors pushing this through when the majority of the survey said ‘No’?

“Why is our elected body not listening to the people?”

But council heard local worries about noise, smell and rodents if backyard birds were allowed, Jackson explained of two “well-attended” public meetings about home coops.

“Four vocal people were in the negative, the rest were very positive about chickens.

“Noise, smell, feed are all dealt with under the bylaw. We’ve directed staff to change the animal-control bylaw to allow chickens under very strong regulations, and that bylaw still has to come to council.”

Clean coops, sealed feed, and rules ordering hens be kept in rat-proof coops and cages will address concerns such as Mayo’s, she outlined.

And Jackson explained the survey was non-binding, though council considered the Cowichan Food Charter and the city’s drive toward food-growing clout as farmers across the continent face drought and other threats to food supplies.

“In the survey, 54% voted ‘No’ among 13% of people who get city water bills, and some were businesses,” she said.

“We have just three days of fresh food on the island — we have to give people more opportunities to grow their own food.”

There were just six coop complaints last year in Nanaimo “and those were to do with roosters,” she said.

City rules will be enforced by staff.

“Our bylaw officer isn’t going to be lurking around people’s backyards.

“Action will be based on complaints. If you are bad chicken parents, your neighbours will complain, but if you share the eggs and tell people what you’re doing, it’ll become like a neighbourhood project.

“If done correctly, there won’t be a problem.”

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