Rossland council officially passed bylaw no. 2733, more commonly known as the backyard chickens bylaw.
The city had always allowed chickens on residential properties, but had no official bylaw in place to monitor and control it.
“We’ve always been in favour of backyard chickens, and it was funny, historically, because people in Rossland thought there was a bylaw about chickens, and everyone knew the details,” explained Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore. “But the reality is, we didn’t actually have a bylaw.”
The city first introduced the bylaw on September 14, and following a number of amendments and a public hearing on Oct. 5, a second reading Oct. 19, and another hearing on Nov. 16, council still failed to reach consensus on the amended bylaw, and in particular one facet of it.
“The real sticking point was some of us wanted to have electric fencing mandatory to prevent interactions with wildlife and dogs as well, and some of us didn’t,” said Moore.
The dispute came down to whether chicken-coop owners should be required to install electric fencing. Council was split on the electric fencing amendment but agreed to most terms of the bylaw.
“At the time we only had six members on council, so anything that went forward went 3-3; everything failed so we couldn’t actually get the bylaw passed until we had our seventh councilor.”
Proposed changes would ensure the correct storage and composting of feces, and the protection of the fowls from wind, precipitation, and predators.
Another amendment recommended the bylaw remove mandatory electric fence regulations and change wording to “Ensure that coops and pens prevent predators from getting in.”
Enter councilor Terry Miller, who was attending his first council meeting as a councilor, after winning the Rossland byelection on Nov. 28. The newest councilor introduced a final amendment that offered an effective compromise.
Miller proposed that: “If a complaint or incident is brought forward to the city because a chicken coop was not properly protected, the owner will be required to remove the coop entirely or to restructure the coop and properly electrify it.”
His amendment carried unanimously. A motion to give third reading to the bylaw carried unanimously, and a final motion to adopt the amended bylaw also carried unanimously.
“I think it’s an elegant solution,” said Moore. “We basically changed it to say that if you have chickens, and if you have a problem with your chickens, say wildlife gets in or people’s dogs get in, or your neighbours complain … then we will send out the bylaw officer who will demand that you either rebuild your chicken coop, or electrify it.”
According to the bylaw, Rosslanders are able to keep up to 15 residential chickens, however, they cannot be slaughtered on the property, and the coop must be maintained regularly to minimize odours and wildlife attractants.