Neighbours in Canal Flats have been raising a stink about one family’s chicken coop — complaints the family believes are derived from out-of-towners on vacation.
“I think the roosters and (visitors) don’t go very well together,” Walter Dimock told the The Echo, after his mother was issued a notice to remove a chicken coop from her property.
Mr. Dimock’s mother raises chickens on her Canal Flats property and shares the eggs produced with the needy.
“Eggs get delivered to everyone from Canmore flood victims to handicapped and seniors here in town,” Mr. Dimock said.
The family was also raising goats earlier this year. They were issued a notice that acknowledged there were chickens on the property, but ordered the family to only get rid of their goats. Not long after, the family was sent another letter that ordered the removal of their chickens by Wednesday, August 29th, with threats of $100 daily fines.
“My mom’s 70 years old and now they’re giving her an order,” said Mr. Dimock.
His suspicion is that the timing of the complaints coincides with the greater number of visitors during summer months.
“Seven trailers show up every year between the May long weekend and September long, and they’ve basically opened up an unauthorized RV park across from my property,” he said. “Basically, a lobbyist group with Albertan plates showed up, saying ‘We don’t like your chickens.’ “
Speaking with The Echo, Chief Administrative Office Brian Woodward confirmed the letters had been issued, but said no bylaws have been changed or implemented. He said that, in the past, bylaws were enforced at a minimal rate because of enforcement challenges. Until last year, the municipality did not have a bylaw ticket information program that allowed the Village of Canal Flats to issue tickets.
“Council has directed staff to enforce bylaws, who are ensuring that all of the bylaws in the municipality are being attended to, and specifically where we have complaints from neighbours,” he said, adding he doesn’t expect the bylaw to change.
But Mr. Dimock’s not going down without a fight.
“A lot of communities are moving towards backyard agriculture, and this town’s deciding to go the other way,” he said, adding his intention is to gather support for a rally against the bylaw.
Mr. Dimock said the complainants were listed anonymously, and that no compromises were available to accommodate the chickens on their property.
“If they want to petition council to change the zoning regulations, then I suggested that they talk to all their friends and neighbours and petition council to change the bylaw,” said Mr. Woodward.
Mr. Woodward added that since the introduction of the bylaw officer in Canal Flats, more than one notice has been issued to property owners raising chickens, and that similar notices have been issued to property owners with decrepit vehicles on their lawn.