Animal bylaw sits in limbo

Vanderhoof's controversial animal bylaw has raised alarms for some residents.

Viola Taylor of Vanderhoof holds one of her chickens that she keeps in the backyard.

Chickens or no chickens, that is the question.

Vanderhoof’s new controversial animal bylaw has raised alarms for some in-town residents.

Since January 2014, the DOV’s Animal Control Bylaw Committee (ACBC) has been reviewing, discussing, debating and revising the SPCA Model Animal Control Bylaw. The committee’s new-and-improved animal bylaw sought it’s second and third reading at the March 9 council meeting but, due to some discrepancies (mainly with Section 6), council moved to discuss the document after the chance for public opinion.

“We can’t expect every neighbour to like having 40 chickens around but we need to do some research on it and have reasonable limits,” councillor Ken Young said at the March meeting.

If passed, farm animals will not be permitted within city limits.

Viola Taylor, 77, lives by Riverside Park and many residents recognize her from the eggs today sign on her front lawn. She moved to her home in 2005 and said at that time the District of Vanderhoof gave her permission to have chickens as long as her neighbours didn’t mind.

“If I were to loose my chickens it would be like loosing my babies,” she said.

Taylor started out with three but her flock has since grown to 32 chickens and two roasters. Her free-range flock produces anywhere from 18-26 eggs a day so, she gives them away.

“The lord told me every egg I give is a blessing,” she said. “I like to share them with people and people absolutely love getting them.”

Yet some residents feel differently.

Councillor Steve Little being one of them.

“I grew up with chickens and I find they are dirty, nasty animals and I wouldn’t want them in my backyard,” he said at the March 9 meeting.

The other controversial part of the bylaw says no one shall have more than five dogs or five cats with a combined limit of five animals. 

The wording for this point gained some attention of council and community members who addressed concerns about animal owners who may only have one pet but still don’t take proper care of it. The number of animals and type of animal was also brought into question with majority of council agreeing that five dogs is much different then five cats.

The ACBC is comprised of councillor Steve Little, Jane Bulkley, a member of the community, Orenda Jarman, the town dog catcher and Kathleen Hebb, another member of the community. A relatively diverse group of people with a variety of opinions on the animal bylaw matter, Gavin Ireland said, DOV representative present at the ACBC meeting’s.

“Our initial response was to deal with the cat and dog issue in town but over the last year we looked at things and if you deal with one animal you deal with all the animals,” councillor Steve Little said. “Our zoning bylaw currently says residents are not allowed any animal husbandry in RR1 zoning. Our current animal bylaw supports that document. So if one needs to be changed they both need to be changed.”

Council will address the revised animal bylaw at the same time as the zoning bylaws sometime after the open house next month.

Date and time for open house has yet to be announced. For more information call the District of Vanderhoof at 250-567-4711.