Owning horses and other livestock

  • Posted on: 17 July 2014
  • By: Michael Brydon

The current bylaw in Area F is basically one horse per acre (0.4 hectare).  If your property is greater than 2 hectares (just under 5 acres), the number of horses you can have is not limited by the bylaw.

Unfortunately, our bylaw contains some set-back provisions that conflict with with the one-horse/acre rule.  The set-backs, which were proposed by the BC Government, generally require 30m set-backs from each property line for the horse area.  In most cases, these set-backs are not feasible for most of the lots on the West Bench.  So the current bylaw is really a mess.

Accordingly, RDOS staff has initiated a process to update our livestock rules.  The first part is to simplify the set-back requirement so it applies only to buildings, not pasture.  The second part is to update the lot size cut-offs as follow:

  1. Under 0.5 hectare (5000 m2): No horses permitted  (*** see update)
  2. Between 0.5 and 1.0 hectares: 1 horse permitted
  3. Between 1.0 and 2.0 hectares: 3 horses permitted
  4. Above 2.0 hectares: not limited by bylaw.


*** In all cases, bylaw changes cannot be applied retroactively.  if you own a horse on a one acre lot you will be permitted to continued to own that horse.  Existing horse owners are grandfathered.

This is just a draft proposal and we are interested in hearing from people on both sides of the fence.  The staff report can be found here.

As a guide, the following maps might help:

  1. Current bylaw show property sizes based on the old bylaw cut-offs (converted from acres).  Red indicates lots smaller than 0.4 hectares (no horses permitted under one-horse/acre rule).
  2. Proposed bylaw shows the proposed metric cut-offs (half-hectare, etc.). Red indicates lots smaller than 0.5 hectares (no horses permitted under the proposed changes).


According to my calculations, there are about 30 properties on the greater West Bench between 0.4 hectare and 0.5 hectare.  These properties will lose the right to have a horse under the proposed bylaw changes.  Again, we are not sure how many people on lots of this size currently own horses or want to own horses.  There is also some debate regarding whether it is humane to house a horse by itself on a lot that is less than 0.5 hectares.  Again, comments are welcome.



The proposal is badly flawed in the second category in particular. Since very many (most?) of the properties on the Bench that have horses are in that size range, the proposal is encouraging people to have only one horse. This is inhumane. In addition, the RDOS's wish that the horse owners who use the ring form an organization makes no sense if the regulations will effectively make it impossible for most property owners to have horses.

At the meeting we had with you and Chris Garrish, your commitment was that the bylaw would not be more restrictive than at present. While I can see cutting out horses on the very small properties makes sense as a horse alone isn't appropriate and it's hard to suitably manage a large animal in that small a space, the restriction on the next size category is against the current practice AND makes no sense; two horses on anything over 1 acre, depending on how the place is set up, is perfectly feasible. A couple of complaints isn't sufficient reason to change the status quo for everyone.

A simple solution is to change the second category so that 2 horses are allowed. The jump from 1 to 3 animals also makes no sense.

The update based on our meeting is the next article in this thread.  Also, I have posted a more recent update here.

I see the problem with a 30 m setback but perhaps you could consider asking for a vegetated buffer (trees and shrubs) between the pasture area and the property line if 30 m isn't feasible, to mitigate the smell and fly problem for neighbours.