City planning technician Chris Hutton is hoping more people will respond to the city’s request for public input on whether people should be able to keep bees and chickens within the City of Williams Lake.
He’s been hosting public meetings, has developed a survey on the city’s website, and will host the final meeting on hens on June 19 at city hall.
So far about a dozen people have come to each meeting, Hutton said Thursday.
“There’s lots of support for hens and some concerns with the impacts,” he said.
“We received suggestions on licensing, training and food safety, that would help with ongoing enforcement issues.”
Several people addressed the challenge of animal welfare and insisted that they would want anyone who keeps hens to ensure the hens are clean and healthy.
“The literature indicates it’s harder to keep backyard hens than it is to keep a dog,” Hutton said. “There is some care that’s required there and they require daily attention and if that isn’t happening with people it’s important to have regulations in place to address those issues. For the health of the hens themselves, and the people who live around them.
The proposed bylaw covered most of the areas already, but input from the public has helped to make the proposed bylaw more specific on licensing and training.
People were equally interested in bees, although Hutton did hear more concerns from people who have had neighbours keeping bees.
“We talked a little about those issues and found for the most part those were in areas where the city had addressed it through bylaw enforcement matters.”
A lot of the regulations being proposed in the draft bylaw would have alleviated those concerns, Hutton said.
One of the biggest things for neighbours is having a proper bee flight path in place.
“You need to obstruct the bee path. It’s sort of like an airport, if you’ve got your flight plan open to a neighbouring property they’re going to come across there.”
Beekeepers can obstruct the path so the bees go up and out so they aren’t hanging around on a neighbouring property.
Hutton plans to prepare reports on both the bee and hen bylaws to bring to mayor and council on July 2 for second reading.
“They will basically be a summary of the public meetings, correspondence we’ve received and the online survey results,” Hutton said.
The survey is designed to glean ideas and opinions and there are lots of opportunities within the survey for comment.
“It’s a really good way to get involved if you can’t get out to the meetings,” he added.