A local advocate for allowing backyard chickens in Sidney says now is the time for the “community to stand together” and show its desire to allow a few backyard hens.
“There is a large number of people that are okay with having chickens and there are a few residents, who really want them,” said Cherie Maclure.
Sidney staff has said the Official Community Plan review will consider the issue of backyard chickens, a subject near and dear to the heart of the Maclure. In 2018 she presented council with a petition with some 300 signatures seeking to follow other Greater Victoria municipalities in allowing them.
Maclure said council deferred her request to the OCP review process and she now hopes that the municipality will take the public’s desire to have backyard chickens seriously.
“I know other people have brought this forward to city council and I don’t know what we need to do to show Sidney council that it is time to make this change and that it is a good change to make,” she said.
Backyard chickens can help improve food security and ecological sustainability. As for concerns about cleanliness and noise, Maclure said her petition called for allowing three to four animals, a manageable number. While it is not clear how much of the Sidney public supports backyard chickens, the phenomenon is already present in the community. “I know of four different residents, who have backyard chickens, or I should say, backyard livestock, because one family has a pig as well,” she said.
Maclure also speaks from personal experience. “I have owned backyard chickens and it was fabulous,” she said. “We had three of them. They produced some lovely eggs and we never had any problems with rodents. We kept everything clean.”
Maclure had the trio for about a year, having acquired them after she had presented her petition and in full knowledge of Sidney’s prohibition of the animals.
“I didn’t want to wait an entire two years before they even started reviewing or taking [input] for the OCP, and it would be another two years from then,” she said. “I felt like four years was an awfully long time to wait to have a bylaw changed.”
The move sparked a conversation with one of her children. “That is when I explained to him, ‘well, you know, there is a very fine line, there is a grey area between bylaws and what is right and what is wrong,’” she said. “And if nobody complains, then it is not enforced, so we are not actually breaking the law until somebody complains about it.”
That moment came earlier this year when a neighbour complained.
While Maclure said her family initially acquired the animals for the food, they also helped her children learn about nature and to care for animals.
“It was a great experience and I am very grateful that I did it,” she said. As for the chickens themselves, they found a new home with family friends not far away in a community that permits them: North Saanich.
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