Chickens could be roosting in Saanich soon

Saanich may allow chickens on smaller lots — with conditions
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
By KIM WESTAD, Timescolonist

Chickens may be able to roost in Saanich but they will have to be registered and orderly about it.

A report going to council next week from staff recommends that keeping hens on smaller properties be allowed, as most residents who responded to an earlier survey wanted, but certain restrictions should apply.

Owners would have to register their flocks, up to a maximum of five hens, with the municipality.

At present, residents can keep 10 hens as long as the lot size is larger than 1,114.8 square metres. But that excludes the majority of lots in the urban containment boundary, where the average lot is about 905 square metres.

The report recommends up to five hens allowed on lots with an area no less than 560 square metres.

With increasing numbers of homeowners becoming more concerned about food security, it makes sense to reduce the lot size to allow more people to keep hens, said Coun. Dean Murdock. Several other municipalities in the region allow urban chickens, including Victoria, Esquimalt, View Royal and Oak Bay.

“It would bring our bylaw into harmony with neighbouring municipalities and help us move towards attaining food security and awareness about local food production,” Murdock said.

In the municipality’s survey, 444 respondents were in favour or reducing the lot size to allow hens, and 84 were opposed.

Saanich council will also deal with a variety of other animal bylaw recommendations next week, including rabbits and deer, and expanding when dogs can run on the beach.

“Passions can run high where animals are concerned and it is often difficult to find community consensus on what the problems are, where they started, and how they should be managed,” Carrie MacPhee, director of legislative services, said in the report.

Like Victoria, Saanich staff are recommending that the animal bylaw be amended to prohibit feeding of deer. Although it is difficult to know the actual number of deer in the region, Saanich seems to have among the most feasting on large suburban lots.

The report also recommends that Saanich reviews fence height regulations, and consult with residents to see if they are in favour of increasing the maximum height from 1.9 metres to 2.4 metres or higher to keep out deer.

Staff also recommend a ban on feeding rabbits in parks or public spaces, and on the sale or adoption of rabbits that have not been spayed or neutered. They suggest requiring rabbits on private property to be kept in secure, enclosed structures and owners prohibited from abandoning rabbits on private or public property.

The recommendations include dogs being allowed on Cordova Bay Beach until 9 a.m. from May to August.

Dogs should be prohibited on artificial turf fields because their digging causes too much damage, staff said.

The recommendations go to council on Tuesday.