Despite fine, Burnaby family fighting to keep backyard chickens
BURNABY, B.C. -- A Burnaby family is butting heads with the municipality over its backyard chicken coop.
“They're like family pets; we watched them hatch,” said Sherri Benjamin.
Her family has raised a small group of chickens over the last year and is now prepared to enter a legal battle with the City of Burnaby to keep them.
City bylaw officers handed a warning to the Benjamin family in May that said “the chickens must be removed.”
Then, in June, another warning told the family it will be fined $400 if it does not “cease the keeping of poultry at this property.”
Benjamin said it came as quite a shock to her family to see the warnings.
“It was a very sad time in our household, especially for our son.” she said.
According to the City of Burnaby, the family’s property is not agriculturally zoned for the keeping of chickens or any type of poultry,
But Benjamin points to the sophisticated living area she has created for the hens to remain quiet and secure on private property.
There is some support for the Benjamin family at city hall.
Councillor Joe Keithley said city staff is working on a possible amendment to the bylaws and the issue could surface again in meetings in the fall.
“Let's take a look at how we can increase our food security within Burnaby,” he said. “People can grow their own and that way we cut down on GHGs.”
If it came to a vote, Keithley said he’d support the Benjamin family and others like them.
Meanwhile, what started as a fun project by 11-year-old Yael Benjamin, who wanted to raise chickens and harvest organic eggs, has turned into quite the popular backyard attraction.
The family said close to a hundred people who enjoy visiting the hens have signed a petition to keep them in the neighbourhood.
“It's kind of scary, because I've spent a lot of time with them and it would be very sad to lose them," said Yael Benjamin.
The city followed through on its warning and fined the family on July 14, but the family plans to appeal.