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Chicken issue on hold

Nelson city council doesn’t appear to have much of an appetite for backyard chickens.
Backyard chickens will not be clucking in local yards this summer.

Nelson city council doesn’t appear to have much of an appetite for backyard chickens.

A motion by councillor Kim Charlesworth to bring the issue of keeping hens within city limits back to the council table received some support from her colleagues. However, the issue was eventually deemed less urgent than others facing council in its last six months in office, and the hens were passed off to council’s next priority setting meeting, when they’ll be given a place on the to-do list.

Charlesworth said staff have already prepared all the research necessary to change the city’s animal control bylaws, and all that’s left is for council to take the final steps.

“What has to happen now is a political decision on whether people want to see this move forward,” she said.

But mayor John Dooley and councillor Robin Cherbo worried allowing chickens into the city would be more complicated than simply changing a bylaw.

Cherbo suggested the city would need to draft chicken coop guidelines, set up a permitting system, or introduce other regulatory measures that would eat up city staffers’ time, and city money.

“We’re already paying $15,000 a year to capture skunks and raccoons, now we’re allowing something that’s going to attract them,” he added. “I would like to know a ballpark cost, considering our budget and how tight it’s been.”

“What are the next steps here?” Dooley asked, adding the process for choosing a city-approved coop design alone could be complicated.

But councillor Donna Macdonald said other communities have generalized hen keeping guidelines Nelson could follow.

“I don’t think we have to get really prescriptive about it in order to have success,” she said.