Keep the foxes out of the hen coop.
That was the message sent loud and clear by people attending a public hearing in Saltair to consider the idea of temporary use permits to allow residential property owners to keep more than 12 chickens.
In an unusual move Cowichan Valley Regional District Director Mel Dorey, who chaired the meeting, asked for a show of hands: who was in favour of the status quo; who wanted new temporary use permits that would require anyone with more than 12 chickens to apply – at an initial cost of $1,000.
About three hands went up in favour of the new process; most people in the room favoured leaving things the way they are.
“I’ll take that as your voice,” Dorey said after the vote.
The vote followed a presentation by CVRD Planner Beverly Suderman. The proposed bylaw would allow staff to approve temporary use permits in R2 residential zones for people who want to keep more farm animals than is permitted under the district’s zoning regulations.
No change to the zoning regulations themselves would be made, and the temporary use permit bylaw would only be in force in the CVRD’s Area G.
In the case of Area G residents raising chickens temporary permits could be approved for up to 99 birds. CVRD staff could also approve the raising of pigs, goats, sheep and other farm animals in Saltair/Islands zones.
Suderman said the change is being considered because the CVRD has received an application from a resident who wants to raise more than the dozen chickens currently permitted in R2 zones, but wants to do so legally.
“It appears that there is a lot of agricultural activity going on in the residential areas at this time,” Suderman said after the show of hands. “It certainly wasn’t intended to get in the way of existing operators.”
But the $1,000 application fee for the first three years of a temporary permit, and the subsequent $350 charge for three year renewals would constitute an obstacle, said Eileen Record, who raises chickens and sells eggs to her neighbours.
“Do you know how many eggs it would take to raise a thousand dollars?” she asked.
The CVRD is in an awkward position. “We are without a good solution on this one,” Dorey admitted. “I would think that most people support local agriculture in this community.”
After the vote one resident, who purchases local eggs commented: “The eggs taste great. We don’t have any problems with them (the operators). You should not charge a thousand dollars for someone to do this.”
Results of the public hearing will be available to CVRD directors when they consider the temporary use permit bylaw at an upcoming meeting.