Telkwa council is not interested in entertaining a request for village residents to keep a larger variety of animals including a number of previously prohibited ones.
In a letter to council, Jason and Breanne Sproule asked council to revisit the animal control bylaw to allow horses, cows, pigs, mules, donkeys, goats, sheep and llamas/alpacas.
They said it seems illogical that someone with a five-acre lot would not be allowed even a single horse or two small goats.
“Especially since COVID, our children have very limited options for recreational activities,” they wrote. “Raising animals provides a very rich learning experience for children.
The couple cited an example from Eugene, Oregon, a city that allows cows, horses, sheep and goats for non-commercial purposes.
Eugene’s bylaw restricts the number of animals to the square footage of the lot divided by the minimum area required by each animal. For horses and cows that is 10,000 square feet and for goats or sheep 5,000 square feet, the letter states.
The Sproules also suggested general provisions could include that “animal runs or barns, chicken or other fowl pens and colonies of bees shall be located on the rear half of the property, not closer than 70 feet from the front property line nor 50 feet from any residence.”
Coun. Annette Morgan said she sympathizes there are a variety of reasons, including food security, particularly in light of the pandemic, but worries about the regulatory implications.
“When you look at the situation, (you think) yeah, this may be a simple thing to that we want to have a little bit more hobby farms on our property, but we don’t have the regulations for those types of that we have in other jurisdictions, that becomes a concern,” she said.
“I recognize the letter; I don’t support it.”
Coun. Derek Meerdink said he also recognized and appreciated the letter, but worries about the neighbours of people who decide to have large farm animals and the modifications that would be required to the property such as fences etc. that change the whole neighbourhood.
“It’s a disadvantage to them, it devalues their property,” he said.
Coun. Dave Livesey questioned the validity of the mimimum spaces required for the animals.
“I really like the idea as well, but the numbers they’ve given here… a horse on 10,000 square feet, I looked up what that would be. An acre is 43,000 square feet and so that’s like a quarter-acre lot and they say that’s enough for a horse, but I don’t think a horse would be very happy in a place that size.”
Livesey said he has recently gotten chickens himself, but was skeptical of Telkwa getting into bigger animals, although he thought there might be some room for discussion on what would be a suitable sized lot.
Coun. Leroy Dekens, who as sitting in as chair in the absence of Mayor Brad Layton, was unequivocal however.
He worried about the capacity of the village to enforce it and people exploiting it.
“So, you’ve got a five-acre lot and now they’ve got 10 cows on there,” he said. “Now, all of a sudden that smell is bothering the guy next to them and they’re calling the village office saying it’s really bad. I notice it even when the Vanderbergs do their fertilizing with their manure on the top of the hill. I just don’t think this town is big enough to get into this.
“I appreciate the letter and understand their concerns, but for me it’s a hard no.”
In the end, council did not take definitive action, but merely passed a motion to receive the letter for information.