‘I just want the law to be enforced:’ Victoria resident angry over neighbour’s 100 backyard chickens

'I just want the law to be enforced:' Victoria resident angry over neighbour's 100 backyard chickens

WATCH: Earlier this year Victoria set a limit on the number of backyard chickens to fifteen, but a Rockland resident has had 100 since March. A next-door neighbour is angry the chickens are still there despite the bylaw. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

You might expect to see deer from your backyard in the Capital Region but dozens of chickens? Well, that’s what Phil Calvert sees from his backyard.

“It’s been a lot of stench, lots of rats, a lot of noise,” says the Rockland resident.

One hundred birds were brought to the Rockland Avenue property in early March when there were no limits on the number of backyard chickens. But by the end of the month, the City of Victoria voted to limit the number to 15.

“That was seven weeks ago. As of today the chickens are still there,” adds Calvert.

He says despite numerous warnings given to the owner by the city, the chickens have stayed put.

“We’ve been told we can’t enjoy the food planted along the fence because it’s been contaminated by the manure,” says Calvert.

“Council changed the bylaw just because [of] two people,” says the property’s owner, Wei Tu.

Tu says she spent over $35,000 creating the urban farm on her two-acre property.

“During the time we built this, [the city had] no limit on [the] number of chicken.”

The farm provides her low-income tenants, some who she says can barely afford food, at least two fresh eggs daily.

“[A] couple people complain[ed], ” says Tu.  “You are destroying something that is for the greater good.  I think it’s not really nice to do.”

On Thursday, Victoria city council approved amendments to the animal responsibility bylaw including, extending the limit of 15 to all poultry (not just female chickens), regulating to storage of poultry manure and of animal feed, and giving power for council to grant exemptions.

It’s a power of exemption Calvert hopes won’t be used for his neighbour.

“I just want the law to be enforced and our neighbour to obey the law.”

The City of Victoria told CHEK News “[…] it will be taking action to enforce the bylaws until compliance is achieved,” including ticketing or legal proceedings. The city has confirmed the property owner has been ticked under the Nuisance (Business Regulation) Bylaw and directed to reduce the number of chickens on their property to 15. The owner has also been directed to deal with the chicken manure and to bring the property up to the neighbourhood standards. Since discussion with the property owner has not achieved compliance, city council has directed the city soliciter to begin enforcement proceedings against the property owner.

Wei Tu says she’s prepared to take this fight to court.

Local governments do not have the legal authority to remove animals from private property, even if they are kept in contravention of a bylaw.  There are very few instances where local governments have the power to take direct enforcement action and it must be prescribed in provincial legislation.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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