MULGRAVE – The longstanding fracas over farm animals and poultry in the Town of Mulgrave concluded on Monday night (March 28) when council passed an amendment to the land-use by-law regulating the keeping of such animals within the residential zone of the town.
The issue has plagued Mulgrave for almost a decade. At a public meeting on the issue Monday night held prior to the regular council meeting, Mayor Ron Chisholm said that, during the summer months, his phone constantly rang with complaints about noise, odour and escaped animals on the town’s roads and trail.
The public meeting was attended by six residents against the proposed land-use by-law amendment, which would prohibit the keeping of all farm animals and poultry with the exception six, egg-laying hens; and one resident who has been negatively impacted, mainly by odour and the wild animals attracted to the farm on a neighbouring property.
Those against the by-law made the case against the six, egg-laying hen limit, describing their need to raise meat hens due to health and financial constraints. They also outlined for council the issue of flock die-off — some chicks inevitably don’t survive; predators and storms may also cause mortality — and the seasonality of chick procurement.
At times, the hour-long discussion was heated, with one resident asking if the proposed amendment was already a fait accompli, were those against the by-law wasting their time by showing up to voice their concerns?
When council tabled the amendment for a vote during the regular council meeting following the public one, they showed that they were listening to residents’ concerns and a lengthy conversation ensued.
Councillor Crystal Durling said, “I’m in between because, if you get six chickens, they can die, and you’re done…you can’t get anymore.”
Councillor Krista Luddington said, “You’re never going to get to a point where everyone is happy,” adding that she wanted to make a compromise that would satisfy the majority of residents “within reason.”
“It’s clear that there’s more appetite for, no pun intended, the meat birds rather than the egg-laying hens. There seems to be more of a need…$4.59 a dozen for eggs isn’t as bad as $30 for chicken,” Luddington added.
Council’s discussion resulted in changes to the amendment, so it now allows 12 hens: egg-laying or meat, or a combination of the two. As stipulated in the original wording of the amendment, no sales of resulting eggs or meat will be allowed. No other poultry or farm animals will be permitted under the by-law. Livestock must not be replaced after it dies by anything other than the 12 stipulated hens.
The vote on the amendment passed unanimously.
CAO David Gray said the amendment would now be sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs for approval.
The next regular council meeting in Mulgrave is set for Tuesday, April 19.