Backyard beehives, hens approved by CRD

Residential zoning bylaw amended for food security

Bees and hens are now allowed on residential properties throughout the Cariboo Regional District.

CRD directors gave third reading and final adoption to bylaws that will allow for laying hens and beekeeping in residential zones, under certain restrictions.

These bylaw changes follow lobbying by area residents, and apply to properties for single-family or two-family zoned properties with a residence as the primary land use.

While properties in rural and resource/agricultural zones already permit unlimited hen and beekeeping, the bylaw change will affect about 11,900 properties throughout the regional district.

CRD chair Al Richmond says it permits these new land uses with an eye to increasing residential sustainability in the region.

“We are pleased to be able to address some folks’ concerns about the ability to deal with food security and their ability to raise their own food.

“The steps we have taken to allow them to keep bees and hens, and on a sliding scale so it doesn’t impact your neighbours, seems to have met with general approval throughout all the public meetings we’ve had.”

A maximum of four hens are allowed on lots smaller than 0.4 hectare (0.99 acre), 10 hens on 0.4-8 ha (0.99-1.98 acre) and up to 20 hens on properties larger than that.

Richmond says the bylaw also follows the general board and public consensus for keeping roosters on residential-zoned lots larger than 0.4 ha (0.99 acre) only, in allowing one rooster for 10 hens and incrementally increasing the quantity with property size, based on concerns regarding noise and aggression.

Egg sales will also be allowed under the amended bylaw proposal.

Slaughtering and/or disposal of hens, and use of hens for meat, are prohibited on these properties upon the recommendation of CRD planning staff, with the potential to look at permitting slaughtering and meat birds in the future.

Public hearing discussions on backyard bees looked at whether electric fencing should be required to deter attracting bears to the honey, but the consensus was that is unnecessary.

Beehive setbacks remain at 7.6 metres (24.9 feet) from property lines, unless specific measures are in place to redirect bee flight paths overhead of any people in the area. These include raising beehives to 2.5 m (8.2 ft.) above the ground, or installing fencing or hedging at least two metres (6.6 ft.) high.

There are numerous other restrictions and regulations regarding the legal keeping of bees or chickens in a residential zone, so folks should obtain the official version by contacting the CRD corporate officer at 1-800-665-1636.

However, unofficial changes to CRD South Cariboo Bylaw 4873, 2013 can be downloaded at www.cariboord.bc.ca under Agendas, June 6, beginning on page 252. Subsequent pages outline the planning, comments and reasoning.