Port Alberni residents are about to be canvassed by the city about revising the local birds and bees bylaw.
City planner Scott Smith educated city councillors about the birds and bees at their Monday meeting.
There are some municipalities that have bylaws allowing chickens and bees within city limits, and there are municipalities that don’t. “Most who have allowed them had some kind of public process first,” Smith said.
According to Smith’s report, several factors have to be taken into consideration with respect to chickens and bees in a municipality.
The Provincial Bee Act regulates keeping of bees.
Municipalities that keep bees have to consider bee flight paths, hive hydration and swarm herding. A maximum of four hives can also be kept on a residential lot.
Under the existing bylaw in Alberni, honeybees can be kept in the city’s market garden, urban agricultural and future development districts.
Chickens may only be kept in the urban agricultural district, with a maximum of four to 10 on a lot, the report noted. Roosters aren’t allowed in some municipalities because of noise and redundancy for egg production.
Structures are required to house chickens, and setbacks from one to three metres are called for.
Coun. Hira Chopra asked how important this issue was. “If we just do the study and do nothing then it’s a waste of time,” he said.
Coun. Robert Cole said information from other municipalities was contradictory and asked if it was something the city could throw together quickly.
City manager Ken Watson said that the issue has been on council’s to-do list for some time and only recently became a high priority.
Council voted to conduct a public survey on keeping honeybees and chickens on urban property. Liaising with the local beekeeping association was also recommended.
Information will be posted on the city’s website and opinion surveys possibly sent out with utility bills.