British Columbia

Complaint about loud goats in rural Maple Ridge baffles local farm community

A resident of Maple Ridge's Whonnock community says she was in disbelief when she found an anonymous letter in her mailbox from someone threatening to call the SPCA over her loud goats and chickens.

Rural residents say potential homebuyers should research the area and its farm lifestyle before moving there

Rhiannon McMillan keeps goats and chickens on her rural property in Maple Ridge, British Columbia on Monday June 2, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A resident of Maple Ridge's Whonnock community says she was in disbelief when she found an anonymous letter in her mailbox from someone threatening to call the SPCA over her loud goats and chickens.

"I was literally in shock. The first thing I did was phone the SPCA myself to be proactive," said Rhiannon McMillan. The B.C. SPCA confirms it did receive a call about the note.

McMillan says animal noises are part of life in her rural neighbourhood near Webster's Corners.

"Expect that you're gonna see and hear and smell different kinds of things."

The letter reads: "Feed your animals or sell them or we will be calling the SPCA. We can hear them all the way from our place." 

McMillan holds a note left by a neighbour on her rural property in Maple Ridge, British Columbia on Monday June 2, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Pascale Shaw operates Rainbow Eggs Farms and sits on the Maple Ridge agricultural advisory committee. As the community of Whonnock grows with new residents, she's concerned that some aren't learning about the lifestyle that comes with living in a rural area. 

"When they get there, they're surprised by animals making strange noises, smells they're not used to and they're surprised and disappointed."

Pascale Shaw operates Rainbow Eggs Farm and cares for a number of animals on her property, including llamas. (Jim Mulleder/CBC)

While McMillan doesn't know who wrote the unsigned complaint, she suspects it's someone relatively new to the area who isn't familiar or comfortable with the farm lifestyle. 

More folks moving to rural Maple Ridge communities 

Few places in Metro Vancouver have grown at a faster rate in the last decade than the eastern half of Maple Ridge, home of traditionally rural neighbourhoods like Whonnock and Webster's Corners.

According to census data, the population of the southern half of the area increased by 45 per cent from 2006 to 2016 — virtually all of it from an increase in single-detached houses that used to be the site of farmland or forests. 

McMillan feeds her goats and chickens on her rural property in Maple Ridge, British Columbia on Monday June 2, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Shaw believes the pandemic has pushed more people to rural communities like Whonnock as they look for more space. 

 "But sometimes they don't realize with that extra space comes neighbours that have animals on them."

Both women are encouraging potential homeowners to research the rural community before closing a deal and noisy farm animals start getting their goat.

With files from Justin McElroy and Jodi Muzylowski

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