British Columbia

How many chickens is too many? Victoria property will have 100 as of Saturday

The owner of a Rockland heritage home is going to have approximately 100 backyard chickens. Neighbours in the upscale community are worried about the smell and vermin.

The owner of a Rockland heritage home says she is not violating any bylaws, wants to feed tenants

Neighbour Chantal Meagher says the chicken coops and the compost bins are located very near the border of her property. (Liz McArthur)

Residents of an upscale Victoria neighbourhood are bracing for the arrival of approximately 100 chickens on Saturday. 

Wei Tu is the landlord of a 35-room heritage home in Rockland and says she is bringing in the chickens to help feed her tenants. 

She says the building has 45 tenants, with many people sharing a room. 

"About one quarter are on social assistance, and living cheque by cheque is a way of living," Tu said. 

"It's my core value to share the responsibility as a whole society, to help those who are in need. 

"So late in January I discussed with my tenants about the possibility to improve our gardens and also set up chicken coops."

Tu admits it's a lot of chickens, but says that 100 birds is not an inappropriate number for the 2.2 acres of land. 

Although Tu is not violating any bylaw, the City of Victoria did pass a motion this week to limit the number of hens to 12. However, the motion still needs to be adopted to take effect. 

Tu says no one from the city has contacted her, but maintains that the issue is a legal one. 

"We are law-abiding citizens," Tu said.

"Before they do that, they have to think about November is election time."

Neighbours describe the three chicken coops as about eight feet by 10 feet, and approximately 10 feet high. (Liz McArthur/CBC)

Chantal Meagher's home borders the multi-tenant property on Rockland Avenue and she is concerned about not only the three large chicken coops, but also the compost bins lined up against the fence between the properties. 

"They have already started putting kitchen waste in. Some of it is spilling out the back," Meager said. 

"It is already starting to smell before it even gets warm out. Our concern relates to the the smell and the vermin that will come because of this."

Although Meagher says hundreds of people living in the area will be affected by the noise and smell, she maintains the issue is not about chickens.

"We recognize the importance of food security. The desire of people to want to have chickens, grow their own food.

"This is, I think, being portrayed as a polarizing issue and it shouldn't be. Our concern is 100 chickens in the middle of a very, very densely populated area." 

In response to a query from CBC, the engagement advisor for the City of Victoria, Rebecca Penz, sent an email confirming there is no current bylaw limiting the number of chickens. 

She added that staff have been directed to prepare a suite of animal control bylaw amendments. 

With files from Liz McArthur