One might say Carolyn Sims isn’t one to count her chickens before they hatch.
Sims is interested in the idea of having a backyard chicken coop, a small, portable structure with maybe six hens (and no roosters). And while there may be others in Sicamous who have chickens, Sims is reluctant to get her own coop going until the District of Sicamous has a bylaw in place.
“Apparently, at this time, there’s no bylaw in effect to say either way…,” said Sims. “So I thought maybe it would be kind of neat to do that but to have a bylaw in place so if your neighbours came by and said I don’t think this is right and complained, you would have some footing.”
Sims submitted a letter to Sicamous council explaining this dilemma. District community planner Mike Marrs noted there are a number of municipalities in the province that do allow chickens in areas zoned residential.
“There are a number of conditions that are applicable to those requirements and it is something that staff will be bringing forward to council as we start addressing the zoning bylaw in relation to the OCP as well…,” said Marrs. “Certainly there is reason to support such and from research and everything we’ve been involved with, there has been very little if any negativity from a bylaw enforcement perspective. But there are fees, there are conditions and certain lot sizes that would control it. And the number of chickens – six hens, no roosters, that type of thing.”
Mayor Terry Rysz supported the idea, provided those caring for chickens are respectful to their neighbours. Coun. Jeff Mallmes had a different perspective.
“I can respect they want to have chickens for fresh eggs and stuff like that,” said Mallmes. “I’ve been to my son’s place and he has chickens and it stinks, quite frankly. So, if we allow this to go on, we will incur bylaw enforcement.”
Marrs reiterated that existing bylaws for chickens in residential areas are very strict.
“It’s something that’s worthy of discussion because there is a need, sustainability for food and that type of thing,” said Marrs.
Sims says Prince George is now moving ahead with a similar bylaw, and she would like to see Sicamous do the same. She says she has kept chickens in the past – when she lived on an acreage, and not her current Oak Street property.
“They’re very easy to keep and now there are a lot of breeds – we used to have maybe four or five breeds and now there’s all kinds, so you can get quite a few smaller-breed chickens so you can kind of put more in a small space than you used to be able to,” said Sims. “It’s just neat to have something like that too, something living and that depends on you and you have to keep going.”
With a half-dozen chickens in the backyard, each one laying about two eggs every three days, Sims expects she’d have more than enough eggs. In addition, there’s the chicken’s manure, which Sims says makes great fertilizer.
But for Sims, having chickens wouldn’t just be about the eggs – it’s about having something to keep her busy.
“I’m retired and my husband has a little part-time job because he doesn’t retire well,” Sims explained. “We got ourselves a little dog too because it gives us a reason to get up and move and do things. I can’t just sit here and vegetate – I have to go out and feed my chickens and walk my dog… My husband and I have travelled quite extensively. So it’s like, we’ve done all that stuff, but I still need a reason to move. And that was the whole thinking in a nutshell.”
If council does pass a chicken bylaw, Sims says whether or not she gets a coop of her own going, she would love to help others with theirs.
“I would be only too happy to help people with that and help get them started,” said Sims.