Urban farm sparks concern among some Rockland residents


WATCH: Calvin To looks into a new urban farm that’s sparking concern among some Rockland residents.

Chantal Meagher and her husband Phil Calvert retired to Rockland last year after a career abroad in the foreign service. Now, they’re concerned about the potential health impacts of the new urban farm, which includes chickens, in the backyard neighbouring theirs.

“Our primary concern is the noise, the smell, and the vermin that will result from filling 60 feet of compost bins along our property line,” Meagher said.

The owner of the property did not want to appear on camera but told us the heritage mansion houses about 45 low-income tenants. About a quarter are on social assistance and many are students.

She said she’s redeveloping the backyard to be a source of food as well as a social gathering place for residents.

She plans to bring in about 100 chickens on Saturday to add to the 21 gardening plots already in place.

Zachary Knott, one of the property’s tenants, says the concerns are being blown out of proportion.

“If I was living here and someone started developing an area and putting chickens in, it would raise some concern, but I’d like to see how it develops, probably work with my neighbours instead of against them, and work with the surrounding community to make it that is sustainable and something that we can support,” Knott said.

“This is excellent. I think we need more stuff like this taking place in Victoria. It’s essentially free food for people. It’s 100 per cent sustainable. And I think this area’s going to be really cleaned up in the future.”

Currently, the City of Victoria has no limit on backyard chickens. But councillors will be voting on Thursday whether to add a 12-chicken limit per property. There is no provision for grandfathering under the current proposed changes.

Meagher says she’s fine with five chickens, but not a hundred, and wants additional changes regarding open compost bins as well as setbacks from property lines.

“It’s much easier to prevent something from happening than to remove it after it has happened,” Meagher said.

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