Backyard livestock raising concerns
CBRM staff to prepare issue paper on subject
Earlene MacMullin recalls a visit to one home while on the campaign trail in her North Sydney district last fall where she was greeted by the resident rooster.
While the fowl was generally a “friendly little guy” and a popular member of the community, MacMullin said her own experience with him took a bit of a turn when she came calling.
“I have never been more afraid of an animal in my entire life, and I’ve been chased by dogs,” MacMullin said.
The issue of the keeping of livestock animals in densely urban areas was brought to Cape Breton Regional council recently by Dist. 11 Coun. Kendra Coombes.
In her memo to clerk Deborah Campbell, Coombes noted the odour and noise associated with the animals was causing animosity among some neighbours and that fellow councillors have expressed frustration with the lack of a bylaw relating to the keeping of livestock. Council supported Coombes’ request that staff be directed to prepare an issue paper on the subject.
Dist. 6 Coun. Ray Paruch noted he had had a conversation with someone from Coombes’ district who raised the issue with him.
“When you hear what the neighbours are putting up with in this particular issue and the lack of any kind of decorum or any kind of decency, it’s just over the top,” Paruch said.
Dist. 9 Coun. George MacDonald said he’s received numerous calls from Glace Bay residents over the years with similar complaints.
“We’ve had chickens, we’ve had pigs, we’ve had roosters, we’ve had every kind of possibility … so I’m glad it’s coming forward,” he said. “I know it’s a controversial one.”
MacMullin said there are cases where livestock are being kept without issue and it will be a delicate balancing act to address all the various circumstances. Mayor Cecil Clarke also raised the issue of 4-H projects, which often involve the raising of animals.
Director of planning Malcolm Gillis noted that the municipal planning strategy and land use bylaws generally don’t permit agricultural operations in urban residential neighbourhoods.
“But when John Doe or Jane Doe chooses to have a few chickens or a goat or a pig in the backyard … and gives the animal a name, it gets very difficult when you get before a judge in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to say that in fact what this person is doing is operating a farm,” he said.
Gillis said the options likely open to the municipality include the adoption of a nuisance bylaw or animal control bylaw, but that will be dealt with in the issue paper.
Dist. 8 Coun. Amanda McDougall noted the importance of also addressing the concerns of those people who are interested in providing their own food and examples of successful urban gardening, while also being respectful of neighbours.
Dist. 1 Coun. Clarence Prince noted that some residents aren’t concerned with the livestock itself but rather with the attraction of rodents in some circumstances related to the feed.
Deputy Mayor Eldon MacDonald noted that if a bylaw is drafted, enforcing it will be another matter that the CBRM will have to deal with.