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Councillors cry 'fowl' as poultry process found lacking

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
June 21st, 2012

Contention between Castlegar city councillors that was once about poultry is now about process, after a motion was passed Monday night to end the debate about allowing chicken husbandry within city limits … and ruffling more than a few feathers along the way.

The divide, in this case, runs along gender lines, with councillors Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff and Deb McIntosh panning a lack of public consultation over the issue.

“I’m disappointed that this recommendation has come forward after we told (resident Peter Wulowka, who brought the issue forward at a previous council meeting) that we would have a public meeting,” McIntosh said. “I think we’re missing the boat on this one, and underestimating the intelligence of our residents. We talk about sustainability – if we’re going to talk the talk, then we had damned well better walk the walk. I think we’re being very short-sighted.”

That being said, she reiterated that her larger concern was the lack of public process – and Heaton-Sherstobitoff agreed.

“I voted against the recommendation because I thought we only got half of the picture – I thought we owed it to those 500 people who signed the petition to hold that public consultation process,” Heaton-Sherstobitoff said. “We owe it to the public to have a public meeting – that’s what we said we would do. To go ahead with this recommendation without getting public input is totally wrong.”

Even councillor Gord Turner, who said he’s not in favour of allowing urban chickens, put forward a motion that the recommendation be tabled until a public meeting could be held – a motion that was narrowly defeated with Turner, McIntosh and Heaton-Sherstobitoff voting in favour and councillors Dan Rye and Kevin Chernoff, along with mayor Lawrence Chernoff, voting against.

Resident Peter Wulowka offered some heated comments during question period, asking councillor Kevin Chernoff (whose committee brought forward the recommendation) what he has against chickens.

“Nothing – in fact, I had them for dinner a couple of times last week,” Chernoff said in a later interview. Further, in response to Wulowka’s demand for “one single reason” he opposes urban chickens, Chernoff pointed to the 11-page agenda document (made public on the city’s website at http://castlegar.ca/pdfs/agenda2012-06-15.pdf) outlining the rationale behind the recommendation.

“I think we’ve exercised due diligence,” he added, pointing to a public meeting held a couple of years ago on the matter, the public consultation that took place around the creation of the Official Community Plan, and the feedback he gets from constituents via telephone, email, personal visits, within committees and organizations like the chamber of commerce, and even social media comments and polls.

“It’s one of those hot-button topics  – everyone you talk to weighs in on it,” he said. “My perception is that an overwhelming majority of residents do not want us to allow chickens within city limits, and that’s what I based my vote on.”

The motion to disallow chicken husbandry on residentially-zoned properties within the city limits was passed 4-2, with McIntosh and Heaton-Sherstobitoff opposing.

 

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