Qualicum Beach council ends backyard chicken pilot project

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Qualicum Beach residents who raise backyard chickens have one year before they need to remove the animals from their property. Town council voted unanimously to end the pilot project that began in 2017.

“The reason why I kept bringing it up, month after month recently was there’s more and more complaints coming in,” said Coun. Robert FIlmer. “And those complains were more or less about chickens getting out and the residents not claiming their chickens.”

Filmer added the town had not received a large increase in complaints about pests connected to chickens, but said he was concerned that could happen if the pilot project became a permanent bylaw.

“There’s a reference in there that we get far less chicken complaints than we do for dogs. Well, we’ve got a lot more dogs in town than we have chickens,” said Coun. Teunis Westbroek.

Council passed Westbroek’s motion to give backyard chicken owners one year to comply with the change. 

“I have no more rats than when I first moved in and did not have chickens,” said Daniel Sailland, the town’s chief administrative officer, who raises chickens with his family.

“I think certain locations are always going to have pests and I would argue more households experience the impacts of pests when old buildings get torn down than with the presence of chickens.”

Filmer expressed concern that letting a staff member comment on a motion was inappropriate.

“When we start looking at developments — if we start looking at a project that was right beside one of our houses that’s going to affect us, or a decision is going to affect one of us, we have to excuse ourselves,” he said. 

The town does not let residents plead their case before council decides to end a pilot project, according to Filmer.

Coun. Scott Harrison said he did not see an issue with staff giving input, since they do not get to vote on decisions.

“There’s no particular interest in terms of a financial benefit to having two chickens in your backyard, so that’s not a conflict,” he said.

The decision will not affect people living on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land, according to Harrison.

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