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Owning horses: Open house on 10 March 2016

Just a heads-up that the RDOS is coming back to the issue of "keeping livestock".  This aroused some interest especially on the West Bench. The main thread on the issue is here.


You may recall that the fundamental problem with the existing bylaw is that it has been amended in dribs and drabs over the years and has become difficult to enforce.  Hence the need for a re-write.

We have already met with many people with views on this issue. The recommendations from these groups have been noted but are not yet reflected in the official RDOS proposal.  This state of affairs may be frustrating for those who have given us feedback--what is the point if their feedback is not reflected in the proposed bylaw?  Please appreciate that the RDOS needs to be concerned with process. A local government cannot go off, meet with small groups, and change bylaws.  Instead, our professional planning staff makes a recommendation, this recommendation is presented to the public, and we make changes only after full and open dialog with anyone who cares to weigh in on the matter.

Having said this, I would like to reiterate what I have heard so far:

  1. It is possible to have too many horses on the West Bench (the people with many horses on relatively small properties).  So generally we want to keep and enforce the historical restrictions.​
  2. Metrification of the bylaw (to hectares) creates problems for lots subdivided into acres.  Thus, we will likely keep the threshold for horse ownership at 0.4 Ha (1 acre) rather than 0.5 Ha, which is nice number on paper but an odd size on the West Bench.
  3. The argument has been made that one horse is never a good situation for the welfare of the animal.  Accordingly, we could relax the lower end of the bylaw so that two horses are allowed on properties between 0.4 and 1.0 Ha in size.
  4. (slightly different issue on the same topic): Roosters will be explicitly excluded:

“small livestock” means poultry, rabbit or other small animals similar in size and weight but does not include farmed fur bearing animals or roosters.

You can comment below, email me your thoughts, or attend the public meeting if you would like to be heard on this matter.

These changes are also summarized in this update.  Note, however, that RDOS planning staff is now less keen on "usable area" provisions.  Such provisions are likely too subjective to be workable.

Update 10 March 2016:

Just to summarize, here is a comparison of the existing bylaw and our most recent thinking on the matter (not yet reflected in any official RDOS planning document):

I have received some push-back on the relaxation on horse ownership on the low end. The basic reasoning is that two horses on a relatively small property (1 acre) is twice as bad as one horse if you are the neighbor.  Note, however, that the middle range has not changed much.  Thus, a person with a 1.2 Ha (~3 acres) could keep three horses under the old bylaw and three under the new bylaw. 



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