Council received two more letters in support of urban chickens this week, as well as a letter highlighting a WildSafeBC paper on raising livestock.
The City of Cranbrook is considering an Urban Agriculture Strategy that would determine whether or not livestock, such as chickens, could be raised in the city. Currently it is not allowed under bylaws.
The position paper by WildSafeBC states that the conservation foundation understands and supports the concept of local food security and the benefits of local food production in a local food strategy.
It recommends that any production of food be done in a way that is environmentally responsible and sustainable.
Mayor Wayne Stetski noted the recommendations ask that if farm animals are kept in an urban setting, specific measures that should be taken.
“The number one thing they recommended if you want to keep chickens or other farm-type animals in a community is the enclosure should have a properly installed well maintained electric fence set up around it’s parameter,” Stetski said.
The information would be reviewed by city staff as part of the development of the 2015 Urban Agriculture Strategy.
WildSafeBC notes that it doesn’t have a stance on whether or not keeping of farm-type animals should be allowed in municipalities. If the municipality does allow it, the foundation recommends the following guidelines.
The first is that the raising of domestic animals shouldn’t attract wildlife.
The second guideline lists specific measures that should be taken to limit the draw of wildlife, including an electric fence, a coop that can be locked at night and a wildlife-resistant container to keep the wildlife out.
The third guideline is to call the provincial conservation officer hotline if the enclosure has been breached, which is 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).
Cranbrook resident Angela Sanders wrote one of the letters expressing support for responsible chicken raising in the city.
“I believe there are many reasons that allowing backyard chickens in Cranbrook would be beneficial, including tastier and more nutritious eggs, educational opportunities, encouraging local food, and increasing the sustainability of our community with greater food security,” Sanders said in the letter.
Mayor Stetski also wrote a reply to Sally Ruoss, which was included in the council agenda package.
Stetski wrote: “Council has received a number of letters both for and against allowing the keeping of chickens for eggs. We want to look at the bigger picture of how urban agriculture, including both plants and animals, might fit into Cranbrook’s future and have asked City staff to make developing this strategy a priority for 2015.”
There was also a letter from 11-year-old Sally.
“I was hoping you would change the bylaws to allow a small number of hens in the city limits,” Sally wrote. “I think you should change the bylaws because local food sources are better for the environment and for our bodies.”
She noted that there are cities like Victoria, Saanich, Colwood, Surrey and others that allow chickens.