The City of Revelstoke’s new livestock policy made its public debut at an April 25 planning committee meeting, starting a public consultation process that will likely happen in the next several weeks.
The proposed policy outlines where chickens, bees and other livestock will be allowed in Revelstoke, and what rules those who keep the animals must follow.
(The entire livestock bylaw policy document is attached below for those interested in all the details.)
Chickens will be permitted in most zones in Revelstoke, except for the downtown core and some denser neighbourhoods.
Some basics apply. Female birds only. A coop must be supplied for the birds. Bear aware mitigation measures must be taken, although the draft policy doesn’t say what that means.
Although chickens are proposed to be allowed on most properties, a rule dictating they not be allowed within five metres of a property line effectively eliminates many residences.
North Columbia Environmental Society (NCES) president Sarah Newton is happy the city is moving forward with formally allowing backyard chickens, noting local food production is a high priority in terms of climate change adaption and mitigation. “We’re pleased that they’re taking it seriously,” she said.
However, Newton said the NCES had extensive consultations with the city and stakeholders such as Revelstoke Bear Aware, including providing the planning department with comprehensive documentation and examples from other communities like Vernon and Vancouver. She said she is “disappointed” the current policy lacks these details, something she’d like to see included.
“I would like [the livestock policy] to go to the environmental advisory committee,” Newton said. It was her understanding the policy was still up for other internal stakeholder review, and was surprised to hear it was heading for public review already.
Newton said the NCES would likely take issue with the five-metre rule because it effectively shuts out many homes on smaller lots.
The policy restricts beekeeping to larger rural properties outside of the downtown core, and to virtually all of Arrow Heights. Beekeeping is permitted on only a few larger properties in the Big Eddy, Columbia Park and Southside. Rules dictate how the hive must be kept and also provide for ‘flyway barriers’ – a tall fence that forces bees to fly upwards. Hive locations must be coordinated with the Bear Aware coordinator.
Ron Glave is a member of the Revelstoke Beekeeping Facebook page and a novice beekeeper.
“It’s very appropriate that there’s criteria for what’s acceptable and appropriate,” he said. “It gives some good guidelines to work with. There’s nothing in there that’s really glaring that seems unfair or unreasonable.”
Pigs aren’t allowed, but goats, sheep, horses, cows, alpacas, llamas and donkeys are. Rules specify how many of each are allowed – such as up to four sheep but only one cow.
The map showing where they’re allowed is the most restrictive – only a few scattered rural properties in outlying neighbourhoods.
There are several other restrictions, such as on cleanliness, feeding and distance to the property line. Effectively, hoofed animals would be allowed on a select few properties.
Revelstoke Bear Aware has reservations
Revelstoke Bear Aware has been a key player in the backyard chickens debate over the past year, and has been involved in the development of these policies.
Bear Aware coordinator Sue Davies said the organization would like to see several more rules and requirements added.
They’d like to see provisions for a club or registry for beekeepers and those raising chickens. The idea is to raise standards and education about proper techniques, especially ones that would prevent attracting bears.
She notes beehives, chickens and chicken feed are all bear attractants.
Davies said she was “disappointed” that requirements for electric fencing were left out.
“If we want to have food outside, then we’re going to attract bears,” Davies said of beehives, chickens and chicken feed.
Davies said electric fences are relatively safe – at an electric fencing workshop last year, participants took turns zapping themselves. She admits electric fences are costly, but not having them will come with costs – resources spent handling forging bears, bears destroyed and potential dangerous conflicts.
Interested in giving input? Look for upcoming public info sessions. The times and dates have yet to be announced, but we’ll be sure to update you when the meeting(s) are announced.