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Chickens can stay

A coop of hens will cluck away for a while after city council in Kamloops agreed to delay enforcing its animal-control bylaw for at least a year.

Lyann Wourms has kept the six chickens on her property in the Heffley Creek area for more than a year — until one of her neighbours started blaming them for "causing a stink."

Wourms said that was around the same time that a nearby farm started fertilizing.

She appeared before council on Tuesday, asking for more time to relocate her chickens, which she said would need to be slowly introduced to a new flock.

Instead, council voted 5-3 to let her keep the chickens until the city finishes its Urban Agricultural Plan.

Coun. Tina Lange, who voted in favour, pointed out the city suspended enforcement for a backyard beekeeper in 2012 when it became clear the city was likely to change its rules on bees.

She said the chickens, which Wourms keeps behind a tree near Crown land at the edge of her property, aren’t likely to cause a disturbance.

“There’s so many people that have chickens in their backyard and because they’re quiet, unobtrusive and don’t make any smell we don’t get complaints."

The Urban Agriculture Plan, due in spring of 2015, will provide recommendations about backyard and commercial food production in the city, including chickens.

However, there is currently no indication whether the plan will recommend allowing chickens on lots smaller than one acre within city limits.

If legalizing backyard hens is a recommendation, the city would still have to draft bylaw language and bring it to council for debate.

That uncertain timeline ruffled some feathers on council.

“They can find someone to take their chickens for a while," said Coun. Ken Christian. "They can apply for a site-specific variance for their property."

He recommended giving Wourms until the end of July to empty her coop.

Coun. Pat Wallace argued other covert chicken farmers might turn to the city looking for a similar protection from the bylaw.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.


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