Opinion

Our take: Will new Duncan chicken bylaw be enforced?

After more consultation, consideration, debate, hand-wringing and revision than most people typically give to their decision to have children, Duncan now allows chickens to be kept within city limits.

All that talk has resulted in a carefully crafted regulation that spells out exactly what one must do to earn and maintain the privilege of keeping a handul of feathered egg-laying machines within Cowichan’s hallowed one-square-mile.

Now only one question remains: will anything really change?

Prior to Monday’s chicken bylaw adoption, backyard chicken coops were illegal within the city. That didn’t prevent a handful of people from keeping them anyway. And to the best of our knowledge, these people were not taken to task by the city for flouting the bylaw.

Other than a certain high-profile colourful word adorning a concrete wall by The Phoenix, we’re not sure many are.

And that’s probably a good thing. The point of a city council is to make sure a city functions smoothly. And part of that role is making sure neighbours can co-exist peacefully.

So in some ways we can get on board with an easy-come, easy-go city enforcement attitude: if a bylaw exists preventing purple buildings, but no one cares, the problem is not the purple building, it is the bylaw. Chickens are no different. Chickens are OK as long as they are not creating sanitation or noise issues in the neighbourhood, just like dogs, or skateboards, or parties, or any number of relatively innocuous activities capable of becoming an annoyance.

Yes, council needed a bylaw to pave the way for the birds, and it needed to be worded in a way that gives it the needed teeth. But the success of that bylaw will not be measured by the amount of coops it shuts down.

It will be measured by the amount of people living peacefully by their neighbourhood chickens.

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