The City of Surrey settled a beef with a South Surrey man Tuesday in provincial court, after the resident was issued $750 in fines for keeping a newborn calf on his residential property.
As part of a plea deal made in Surrey Provincial Court, the city agreed to drop two charges if Asad Syed pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully keeping livestock on his property.
Syed was ordered to pay one $250 fine, which is to be shared between him and his wife.
Syed purchased a calf from a dairy farmer just before Christmas last year. He was bottle feeding the calf at the time and planned to transfer the animal to his hobby farm near Yale where it could “survive and thrive,” he said.
The City of Surrey turned up at his house before Christmas and told him he needed to remove the animal from the residential property by Jan. 2.
Syed agreed, however, his plan to relocate the animal was delayed because the caretaker of the hobby farm left to celebrate Christmas, and then extended his time away by one week to deal with an illness, the court heard.
Syed told Peace Arch News last year that he had no choice but to keep the calf in his backyard until the farm caretaker returned.
On Jan. 13, the city issued Syed and his wife a $250 fine.
Syed disputed the fine in court, which prompted the city to issue two more $250 fines under the same bylaw, bringing the total amount to $750, he said.
A trial for the case was scheduled to begin Tuesday, but the city’s lawyer announced the plea deal agreement to Judicial Justice Irene Blackstone prior to its commencement.
Blackstone accepted the plea, and noted that Syed sought mercy from the court, which she did not grant.
“I will point out that a $125 fine (each) is quite reasonable considering the circumstances,” Blackstone said in court.
“You seem to be missing the point of the bylaw. It’s residential. It’s not just a punishment situation, it’s a deterrent to other people. If you can bring a calf, can your neighbour bring two cows? If that neighbour can bring two cows, can another neighbour have a horse?”
Blackstone said that it did not seem to her that Syed did enough to find an alternative location for the calf while he was waiting for his caretaker to become available.
“You’re not the only farmer in the Lower Mainland. Did you reach out to anyone in the farming community?” she asked.
“By just taking the easiest route wasn’t necessarily the best route.”
Syed told PAN after court that he contested the bylaw because he did not think a “small calf” should be considered livestock.
“I pled guilty for the first count, but I have concerns with the city behaviour,” he said.
“Given the one ticket, which was appropriate for the contradiction of the bylaw, they raised it two times just to punish (me).”
Syed said he accepted the plea deal because the “city was getting desperate and ready to waste tax payers’ money on a non-issue.”
Syed said the cow is in good health.