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12-year-old boy sparks West Vancouver chicken debate
“It would be great to have chickens because then we wouldn’t be driving (which is a major factor in pollution) to the store just to buy eggs,” Robert Lemon wrote to West Van council this summer.
“I hope you let chickens be part of the community,” he concluded.
After visiting his aunt who owns chickens in Princeton, B.C., Lemon wanted to get a couple of his own. But after his dad told him it was illegal to keep chickens in West Van, he decided to take action by writing to council.
“I think it would be fun and good for the environment to raise chickens,” Robert tells The Outlook, adding he was surprised when he found out keeping chickens wasn’t allowed in the municipality.
West Van residents were allowed to keep chickens in a coop until four years ago, when concerns arose that they attracted bears.
But organizers of a petition that’s circulating the community say bears are much more attracted to garbage, fruit trees and pet food left outside. In fact, Cori Creed, a mother of three young children who is passing around the petition, has only heard of one incident.
“It’s really important to teach our children about sustainability and where food comes from,” she says. “They can help out by cleaning and gathering the eggs.”
Creed already has her children involved by getting them to draw pictures to include on the petition.
Lemon has approached classmates to sign the petition and received good response so far. So has Creed, who has gathered around 70 signatures by passing out the petition during events.
Only one person has opposed the idea, fearing chickens would bring rats, but this is not the case, says Creed, as long as coops are maintained properly.
“Anyone who wants to have chickens is going to look after them properly. It’s a big investment,” she says.
Creed is currently raising bees and says her seven-year-old son loves to suit up to help her.
“The attitude that you can only grow your own food if you live on a farm has to change. Instead of having a huge lawn, why not plant a vegetable garden?”
The City of North Vancouver has allowed people to own chickens since September, prompting a local bear behavior expert to voice concern that the smell of cages could bring bears down from the mountains.
People living in single-unit houses surrounding the city’s downtown core can have up to eight hens. Roosters aren’t allowed due to their noise.
The petition’s organizers say they will approach West Van council once they have more signatures.