Andrea Lychak-Macdermott, a Smithers resident, dressed up one of her chickens last month for Easter.

Burns Lake residents to get backyard animals

The Great Chicken Survey Report

In the May 19, Village of Burns Lake council meeting, a motion to allow backyard animals was passed after a short survey conducted by the village to understand the pulse of the village.

The outcome of the survey titled ‘The Great Chicken Survey Report’ was presented at the regular council meeting. The survey was conducted mainly to understand the residents’ enthusiasm and support in allowing ‘backyard animals’ in the residential zone. It received 174 responses from the Facebook campaign and 65 written comments.

“Council directed staff to bring back a report with recommendations for the implementation of allowing hens and bees to be raised in residential zones,” said Sheryl Worthing, the Chief Administrative Officer for the village in an email to Lakes District News. While gathering information for the survey, neighbouring municipalities were also contacted to find out about their policies. The village discovered that all of those who were contacted, allowed hens, some allowed honeybees and some even allowed rabbits. None of the surveyed municipalities allow ungulates as per the report submitted during the council meeting.

Smithers allows up to six hens for a single-family home, Terrace allows four hens, honeybees and rabbits, Fraser Lake allows up to six hens, honeybees and rabbits, Houston allows up to eight hens and Telkwa allows up to 10 hens to be kept as barnyard animals in residential zones.

In Burns Lake, of the 174 people who responded to the survey, a majority supported the idea of having chicken, bees and/or rabbits in the backyard. Responses ranged from supporting the initiative due to an increased awareness through the Covid-19 restrictions, leading to a growing need for sustainable solutions, to just wanting such animals out of pure love for them.

The survey quizzed the residents about the several different possibilities and what they felt about having backyard animals in general. It also highlighted that such allowance of having the backyard animals would only be possible under strict conditions such as mandatory registration of owners of such backyard animals with the village, no onsite slaughtering, no profits earned or sale allowed after keeping such animals, etc.

Worthing however pointed out that there is no timeline yet as to when this will actually happen. “We will determine next steps once council has approved guidelines for putting this in place,” she said.

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