Differing views on livestock ownership in rural areas

As this thread indicates, the RDOS is currently in the process (very slow process, admittedly) of updating "keeping of livestock" bylaws in Area F and elsewhere.  One of the issues we struggle with in regional districts is the "uniformity" of our bylaws: should the rules in all rural areas of the RDOS be the same?  In some ways uniformity would be tidier.  It would certainly simplify bylaw enforcement.  However, an argument can be made in favor of the idiosyncratic traditions and norms that emerge in neighborhoods over time.  RDOS planner Chris Garrish has provided a good example of this from a public consultation in Heritage Hills (east side of Skaha Lake) in Electoral Area D.  As you may know, Heritage Hills is a much newer neighborhood than the original West Bench.  Here is Chris's email to me:

Thought you might enjoy this, considering the SH5 Zone is the same one that applies in the West Bench.  The following are comments I received from a couple of residents in Heritage Hills in relation to the replacement of the Land Use Contract (LUC) with an SH5 zoning:


we feel this is “non-negotiable” due to the definition on Page 7 of the Area D-2 Zoning Bylaw. The mere fact that “Agriculture” includes producing and rearing animals and range grazing of horses, cattle, sheep and other livestock is utterly unacceptable.  We see that you have restructured the minimum parcel size by moving them out of subsection 3; however, any slight window that would allow this to occur on ANY lot would be a non-starter.  You mentioned a minimum parcel size of 0.4 ha under the current zoning and there being only a handful of parcels in Heritage Hills that would qualify for chickens or horses.   You go on to say: “what extent is this going to be an issue in the future?” By leaving this in the zoning, we feel there is a ”window of opportunity”  for this to occur; most people  have voiced– they do not want to be the one living next door to such livestock.  We do not want any type of livestock permitted in Heritage Hills. We welcome controlled cats and dogs by responsible owners. These are the only four legged creatures we wish to have in the neighborhood. Also, agriculture includes the growing or harvesting…

How do residents on the West Bench feel about horses, roosters, and so on?  My own guess is that these minor annoyances have become part of the West Bench (much like the fruit signs: white plywood + red paint + misspelled words). That is, there is something to be said for "tradition" when updating bylaws.

Having said this, I live in Westwood Properties.  I do not have horses for neighbors and may have an idealized view of tradition.  As always I am looking for comments and suggestions.



I live on the West Bench and am a horse owner, which I suppose biases me, but that aside I feel strongly that traditions in such matters should be respected and taken into account whenever changes in bylaws are contemplated. People often choose to live in an area in part because of such traditions that define the nature of life there, in this case, horses, hens, and a few other critters kept on large properties; conversely, people who don't want that sort of lifestyle are unlikely to buy in such an area. I wonder how widespread the view expressed by the Heritage Hills person is in that area, but assuming it is the majority view, then let those people have their lifestyle there. It should not mean that other areas in the RDOS cannot be quite different. Personally, whether I had a horse or not, I'd never consider buying in an area which didn't welcome other species, beyond cats and dogs, that are loved and taken care of appropriately. It would be SO boring!

Any change to my ability to keep horses on my property would constitute a significant change in why I bought this property. It would appear that either zoning or a huge change in water costs and availability would significantly change the reason that I bought here. I feel this is a retroactive change in the basic contract on this property purchased in good faith 23 years ago

Perhaps we "old timers" should consider gathering legal advice in protecting our property rights.

To be clear, the original comment above represent (perhaps) the prevailing view in Heritage Hills. No abolition of livestock is being anticipated in Area F (West Bench).  If anything, we are moving in the direction of making it slightly easier to have two horses (summarized here).

The response comments from West Benchers reinforce my general impression that Heritage Hills and the West Bench, despite being relatively close to each other, have different views on the meaning of "rural residential".  Part of this I think boils down to the different history of each neighborhood.  That was the point I was trying to make.  I didn't mean to alarm anyone...

I agree completely with Eva. My family and I moved to the West Bench knowing that people are raising horses and chickens, and we plan on raising our own small poultry flock. The presence of livestock was appealing to us, as is the unique experience of seeing a horse with owner riding down the street.

I believe strongly that it will be key in the near future for peri-urban areas to be a main source of food for cities, as drought and rising food costs make it more costly to import large quantities of food from faraway farms. An area like the West Bench can make use of the large lots to produce a high percentage of the food consumed in Penticton. Let's continue to allow our land to be resource producers rather than consumers. This is a great community, let's keep it that way!
Rick Hatch

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