I had a meeting on July 31, 2014, with a group of West Bench horse owners and Chris Garrish, the RDOS planner working on the livestock bylaw.
Three major issues were addressed during the meeting. I have outlined the issues below and noted my recommendation to Chris. Of course, these are just my recommendations. Staff will come up with another revision of the draft bylaw based on this meeting and other interactions with the public.
- The awkwardness of the 0.5 Ha cut-off for owning horses: Quite a few 1 acre (closer to 0.4 Ha) lots exist on the West Bench. Changing to 0.5 Ha (simply to keep things metric and tidy) would take away the right to own horses for some people. This is not the intent of the proposed changes.
Recommendation: Keep the threshold at which a person may own a horse at 0.4 Ha (one acre).
- One horse: The BC-SPCA and the National Farm Animal Care Council consider it good practice to provide horses with social opportunities. However, meeting participants pointed out that under the current Area F zoning bylaw (one horse per acre) we indirectly encourage people to have one horse. This is because for historical reasons we have a good number of "medium-sized" properties on the West Bench (between one and two acres).
Recommendation: Consider loosening the bylaw to permit two horses on properties larger than 0.4 Ha (one acre).
- Usable area: The other side of loosening the bylaw to permit two horses on medium-sized property is to recognize that not all properties are equal when it comes to suitability for horses. This is a bit of a grey area, but the general idea is that houses, driveways, steep slopes, and riparian areas should not be counted when determining the number of horses permitted by the bylaw.
Recommendation: Have the planners investigate "usable area" provisions for by bylaw. Although this adds a layer of complexity to bylaw enforcement, the RDOS has done this in other areas.
Summary of proposed bylaw changes (from Chris):
(these are prior to my recommendations above)
Current Zoning Bylaw Regulations
Proposed Zoning Bylaw Regulations
On any parcel 2.0 ha or less in area, the total number of livestock, shall not exceed one (1) animal for each 0.4 ha of parcel area;
Despite Section 7.21.1, on any parcel 0.4 ha or less in area, up to twenty-five (25) poultry and/or fur bearing animals is permitted.
One parcels less than 500 m2 in area, keeping of livestock, small livestock or farmed fur bearing animals shall not be permitted.
On parcels greater than 500 m2 and less than 2,500 m2 in area, keeping of animals shall be limited to 5 small livestock.
On parcels greater than 2,500 m2 and less than 4,000 m2 in area, keeping of animals shall be limited to 25 small livestock.
On parcels greater than 0.4 ha and less than 1.0 hectare in area, keeping of animals shall be limited to 2 livestock and 25 small livestock.
On parcels 1.0 ha or greater and less than 1.5 hectare in area, keeping of animals shall be limited to 3 livestock and 50 small livestock.
On parcels 1.5 ha or greater and less than 2.0 hectare in area, keeping of animals shall be limited to 4 livestock and 100 small livestock.
On parcels 2.0 ha or greater in area, keeping of livestock and small livestock shall be unlimited.
“livestock” includes cattle, horse, mule, ass, sheep, goat, swine, musk, ox, llama, alpaca, farmed game and ratites.
“small livestock” means poultry, rabbit or other small animals similar in size and weight but does not include farmed fur bearing animals.