Chicken Council

If ever there was a reason to want better leadership at Victoria’s City Hall, it’s over the issue of 100 chickens. Due to my involvement in newcouncil.ca, a friend asked if I can meet Chantal and Phil, who have the most fence space shared with the owner of the Rockland property who has given 100 chickens a new home.

Since approximately 2003 this owner has tried on multiple occasions, without success, to either develop or subdivide her property that is excess of 2 acres.  These efforts have been considered inappropriate not just by the neighbourhood, but by every City Council. Two days after her most recent application to subdivide was refused by City Council, she hatched her chicken plan. She says it’s not about retaliation, but it’s about her desire to feed her poor tenants eggs. Ok, so let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and get that application going to give her the 2018 Victoria Citizen of the Year for her philanthropy.

Regardless of the motive, she has Victoria’s mayor and councilors to thank for doing absolutely nothing to help out people who live near this property. Every other municipality around here has strict limits on the number of chickens, the care and amount of chicken compost allowed, and the set-backs where you can keep the chickens. This is important not only to prevent excessive noise and smell from bothering the neighbours, but to protect everyone from disease and pathogens (including E. coli, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium) contained in chicken feces.

This owner has put about 60 linear feet of open-pit compost bins right up against the property of Chantal and Phil, and there’s no indication what she’ll do with the chicken litter. The coups themselves are right under the noses of several tenants living in apartments in converted mansions. The purpose of legislating “set-backs” for chickens and composts from the neighbours is to say, “if you like chickens so much, then YOU live with the chickens, the smell, the feces, the noise and the rats, but not your neighbours.”

Victoria councils and City administrators have been warned about this problem for years by animal control experts, but have chosen not to act. And so far this present council has done nothing.

Oh sure, they’ve talked ad nauseam, for hours, proposing resolutions, amendments, sub-amendments, and talking how about a 12 chicken limit (did someone look at a dozen eggs and decide “if that’s how they’re bought, let’s go with that number!”?) And instead of making a common sense decision, they’ve fobbed it off on the Urban Food Table, a group that doesn’t allow any public consultation.

Chantal and I were on Adam Stirling’s show on CFAX on March 29th (listen here). Two chicken farmers called in to say get ready for the rats, other vermin, and very noisy chickens…something Chantal and Phil have been saying – to deaf ears of this council – from the start.

And get this: Mayor Lisa Helps, has decided to recuse herself from the debate and any vote to bring sanity to this ridiculous situation, because she has 3 chickens! You know what? If the council was voting to do away with all chickens, or perhaps less than 3, then maybe, maybe, she could excuse herself from showing the leadership we need from her. But they aren’t! At the moment, they are considering a cap at 12. Where, oh where Mayor Helps is the conflict?? And of course Mayor Helps didn’t recuse herself from the vastly over-budgeted bike lanes debacle even though her bike is now her main form of transportation.

Folks, we want common-sense leadership, plain and simple. If this council thinks there are other related issues to be addressed, then hold off those finer points until later. But in the meantime, any reasonable person can see there are 3 things they can do right now:

  • 1.     Limit the number of chickens per property to 12 (for whatever reason is the 12, it’s way better than a ridiculous 100)
  • 2.     Keep the chickens & coops away from the neighbours with enforced set-backs at the property line. Or follow the example of Saanich, which regulates according to property size.  On this property, the setback would be 150 feet from all property lines.
  • 3.     Have standards for limiting the amount, and keeping the chicken feces from attracting unwanted vermin

If this mayor and council are so chicken to resolve a simple problem like this, then they don’t deserve your support on October 20th, election day. And if you think this just affects Chantal & Phil, remember that anyone, for any reason can do the same thing on their property – right beside your home or apartment.

We just wish Mayor Helps and this Council would embrace common sense to protect law-abiding tax-paying citizens in the same way Mayor Helps embraces chickens.

Join us in our desire for a common sense, reasonable Victoria City Council.

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