Backyard chickens could be hatching into a 2018 municipal election issue for Chilliwack.
A meeting for those “to get the ball rolling” is Jan. 30, 7 p.m. at the Chilliwack library, said organizer Eryne Croquet.
“The point of this meeting will be to make backyard chickens a major issue in the 2018 municipal election,” said Croquet. “It could be a way of restarting the conversation.”
City council voted not to allow backyard chickens in residential areas in 2014, despite numerous requests, and opted to stick with status quo, which was to restrict it to agricultural land.
However in 2016, council approved a temporary use permit (TUP) for a Yale Road couple, in a rural area of Chilliwack, to keep three chickens and two beehives. It cost $400 to make the TUP application.
READ MORE: Council approves permit
Croquet said she’d heard about the permit being approved last year.
Since the Yale Road property was zoned R1-A, or One Family Residential, chickens and bees were not allowed, so a TUP was proposed, due to the temporary nature of the permit and the ability for council to revisit the issue in three years. The applicants also sought and obtained signatures from supportive neighbours.
But despite that, the TUP process is not a solution, Croquet argued.
“Going that route is onerous and expensive,” she said. “So it’s actually prohibitive.”
That was similar to the points raised by Coun. Jason Lum in council chambers, before he voted in favour of the TUP last year. Lum was the lone dissenting voice on council when it voted to disallow backyard chickens in 2014.
READ MORE: When council said no
“As it is the only avenue to legally do this at this point, I am in support (of the TUP), recognizing the financial impact. I welcome the opportunity to look at a formal policy,” Lum said at the council meeting in 2016.
Coun. Lum also asked if there was any scientific evidence on risks to industry posed by backyard chicken flocks in rural residential areas, versus where they are allowed on ag land.
Coun. Sam Waddington, who eventually voted for the TUP, said he had learned that backyard chickens might pose a risk to the poultry industry for transmitting Avian Influenza, adding that while biosecurity wasn’t necessarily a “sexy” subject, it was crucial to discuss.
Chilliwack farms were devastated by mass culls as a result of AI outbreaks in 2004 and 2009.
“We’re just going to keep coming forward on this,” said Croquet. “Being able to raise chickens is a food security concern for people, and many are interested in keeping chickens because it connects us to our agrarian roots.”
Chickens are a good animal for children to learn about and raise, she added.
To reach Croquet for more info, or for those who can’t make the Jan. 30 meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org