Backyard chickens in French Creek earn a stay

News and notes from the Regional District of Nanaimo's board of directors meeting on Tuesday night

Despite running afoul, the fowl can stay.

After a passionate plea at Tuesday night’s RDN meeting from a Columbia Beach resident vying to keep her four backyard chickens — contrary to an RDN bylaw prohibiting chickens on small parcels of land — the board allowed the animals to stay.

Jillian Kim said her “misunderstanding of the bylaw” led her to raising four chickens in her backyard. “This was in no way a secret chicken farm,” Kim told the board with a laugh, adding it is not a for-profit organization. “I just wanted an interesting hobby, a few interesting pets and to teach my kids environmental sustainability.”

Kim said bylaw 500, which prohibits chickens, was brought to her attention upon receiving a letter from the regional district.

RDN CAO Paul Thorkelsson confirmed there is a bylaw in place prohibiting household animals and pets on lots smaller than 1,000 square metres. He said household animals include foul. On a powerpoint presentation, Kim showed the board a picture drawn by her four-year-old daughter which she explained translated into saying “please give me back my chickens.”

“This was a moment of tears for me,” she said about the letter from her daughter. “I told her I’d do my best to represent her concerns.”

Kim presented a thorough presentation asking the board to amend their current bylaw to allow residents with lots smaller than 1,000 square feet to raise backyard chickens.

Thorkelsson said “coincidentally” a bylaw review is already underway. The board made a motion directing staff not to take enforcement action in regards to people raising backyard chickens on lots smaller than 1,000 square metres until the bylaw review has been completed.

The board made a motion directing staff not to take enforcement action in regards to people raising backyard chickens on lots smaller than 1,000 square metres until the bylaw review has been completed.

Also at Tuesday night’s regular RDN meeting:

•    Staff was directed to send a letter to the Comox Valley Regional District and B.C. Transit inquiring about the possibility of extending their transit service to the Deep Bay/ Bowser area.

•    RDN board remuneration was raised and passed and will come into effect for the next term of politicians. After the Nov. 15 elections, directors will receive $13,205, up from $11,855, electoral area directors will receive $24,190, up from $18,440, and the chair will receive $19,500, up from $14,395. Remuneration refers to the annual salary of elected officials.

•    The board passed a motion directing staff to send a letter to appropriate provincial ministries stating the RDN’s support for Metro Vancouver’s bylaw 280, legislation that would make it illegal for garbage haulers to take waste out of their region.