Backyard agriculture consultation for Areas F, G concludes

The Regional District of East Kootenay is looking at the possibility of small-scale backyard agriculture, such as keeping chicken or bees

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is looking at the possibility of allowing small-scale backyard agriculture, such as keeping chicken or bees, in RDEK Areas F and G, a topic that has been the subject of recent public consultation.

A workshop on the matter drew 23 valley residents to the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, March 1st and the RDEK has concluded an online survey on the topic (the survey wrapped up on Monday, March 7th) that generated more than 200 responses.

The RDEK has also conducted two other workshops on backyard agriculture — one on November 3rd last fall in Windermere (which drew 16 people) and one in Edgewater on November 4th (which drew seven people).

“The reaction from property owners have been mixed. Some support it, others don’t,” Area F director Wendy Booth told The Echo. “As for my personal thoughts, I will need to review the feedback from the survey in-depth before I formulate my opinion. On the one hand, having backyard agriculture has some positive attributes. However, there are also some negatives, including wildlife attractants, which is a concern.”

“The workshop is part of our effort to get feedback from residents with regard to their feelings about backyard agriculture on single family residential parcels in Electoral Areas F and G,” said RDEK planner Kris Belanger in a press release, adding that the RDEK doesn’t want input on just keeping chickens for egg production and hobby scale beekeeping, but also on wildlife exclusion fencing.

“Throughout the process, people have identified a range of impacts related to backyard agriculture. Positives include sustainability and food security while the concerns raised cover everything from wildlife attractants to impacts on resort or community aesthetics. It has been well-rounded, valuable feedback,” said Belanger in the release, adding that he encourages anybody who has not yet provided comments at one of the workshops or through the survey to contact the office as the RDEK is hoping to hear from as many people as possible.

“I appreciate those who completed the survey and attended the workshop. The feedback is really important in determining next steps if any,” said Booth.

The results from the survey and all three workshops will be compiled and presented to the RDEK board of directors, which will decide whether or not there should be any bylaw changes related to backyard agriculture in Areas F and G.

Invermere Valley Echo