Kale Force meeting of Dec. 10, 2008

December 11, 2008

Had the last meeting of the year last night, and (I think) the first meeting of the second year of meetings… meaning, if I remember rightly, that the first meeting ever was in December 2007, back when we had no name for these monthly gatherings.

About 8 people showed up, which is not bad for a December evening. The food was great: a delicious curry and rice, some mashed (local) potatoes with parsley & smoked salmon, deviled backyard (illegal!) eggs, and yummy shortbread and other treats for dessert.

Conversation was, as always, fairly free-wheeling. But we did do a go-round and give everyone a chance to talk about what they’re up to, what’s going on in the garden, and all that good stuff. I handed out copies of the first draft of the seed-saving plan and we talked about that. I’m pretty certain that this is a project that will really spark people’s imaginations and lead to good conversations about the importance of local seed-saving, the fragility of the global food supply, backyard gardening in hard times, and all sorts of other topics near and dear to the heart of the Kale Force.

For anyone interested in getting more involved, the seed-saving project — which badly needs a jazzy name — has a blog. There’s not a huge amount of information there now, but this is the place on the web where we will be creating and following this local project, answering questions, sharing information and results, and all that.

See you in the new year!

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Understanding our local animal by-laws

July 17, 2008

If you consult the Animal Control Consolidation (by-law #1979) in conjunction with the zoning map of the City of Powell River, you can figure out whether you are allowed to keep animals on your property other than dogs or cats. Here’s how it works:

Go to page 4 of the Animal Control Consolidation. Clause 29 states:

29. No person shall keep any animal, other than a dog or cat, on a parcel of land in the District unless the land is in an area zoned RA1, A1 or A2 under the Powell River Zoning Bylaw No. 1851, 1999 except in the lawful operation of a pet shop or veterinary clinic.

There are no exceptions to this clause. So look at the zoning map. If you are not in an area zoned RA1 (Residential Agricultural), A1 (Small Lot Rural Residential), or A2 (Small Lot Rural), then you are out of luck. You’ll have to raise small animals on the QT. These zones cover all of Wildwood, except for Catalyst’s landfill; most of the parts of Cranberry lying to the south, east, and north of Cranberry Lake; and a few areas on the edge of Westview as well as the lands surrounding the hydro right-of-way.

Let’s say that you do happen to live in an area zoned RA1, A1, or A2. Clause 30 of the Animal Control Consolidation states:

30. No person shall keep any animal, other than a dog or cat in the District unless:

a) 0.4 hectares (1 acre) of land is provided for the animal, and

b) an additional 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres) of land is provided for each additional animal.

c) Notwithstanding sections 30 (a) and (b) of this bylaw, a person may keep any animal, other than a dog or cat on a parcel of land in the District in an area zoned Residential Agricultural (RA1), under the Powell River Zoning Bylaw No. 1851, 1999 provided that:

(i) 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres) of land is provided for each animal.

So now we learn that in order to keep any animal other than a dog or cat, you need to be in an area zoned RA1, A1, or A2; and you must also provide an acre of land for the first such animal (clause 30(a)) and a half-acre for each subsequent animal (clause 30(b)).

Clause 30(c) informs us that if you are in area zoned RA1, however, you only need a half-acre for each animal, not a full acre for the first animal and a half-acre for the subsequent ones. (So zone RA1 is clearly the gold standard of urban agricultural zones.)

Now we get to clauses 31 and 32:

32. Notwithstanding section 30 of this bylaw, a person may keep up to 24 poultry, one of which may be a rooster, or 50 rabbits on a parcel of land in the District having an area greater than 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres).

31. Notwithstanding section 30 of this bylaw, a person may keep up to 12 poultry, none of which may be a rooster, or 20 rabbits on a parcel of land in the District having an area of 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres) or less.

Upshot of these two clauses: the business we just went through about needing an acre for the first animal and so on does not count if we are talking about poultry or rabbits. In the case of poultry or rabbits, you need to be an area zoned RA1, A1, or A2, as always; but if your property is half an acre or smaller in size then you can keep “up to 12 poultry, none of which may be a rooster, or 20 rabbits”. If your property is larger than half an acre then you can keep “up to 24 poultry, one of which may be a rooster, or 50 rabbits”.

It seems that the by-law is written so that poultry and rabbits are mutually exclusive. At any rate, there is no simple way of figuring out of you can keep some mix of poultry and rabbits, and if so how many poultry equals one rabbit.

So, in the interests of simplifying this, here is the decision tree:

1. Do you live in an area zoned RA1, A1, or A2? (Consult the map.) If yes, go to (2). If no, you cannot legally keep livestock in the City of Powell River. Go to (7).

2. Is your property half an acre or less in size? If yes, go to (3). If no, go to (4).

3. You may keep up to 12 poultry, none of which may be a rooster, or 20 rabbits. If your property is in an area zoned RA1, and it is precisely half an acre in size, then you can keep one other animal other than a dog, cat, poultry, or rabbit. Go to (7).

4. You may keep up to 24 poultry, one of which may be a rooster, or 50 rabbits. Is your property in an area zoned RA1? If so, go to (5). If not, go to (6).

5. You can keep animals other than a dog, cat, poultry, or rabbit, as long as you provide a half an acre per animal. Go to (7).

6. You can keep animals other than a dog, cat, poultry, or rabbit, as long as you provide an acre for the first such animal and a half an acre for each subsequent animal. Go to (7).

7. Confused? If yes, then go back to (1) and try again. If not, you’re done.

So, it’s a little complicated, but not terribly so.

The upshot is that there are large parts of the City of Powell River where livestock are illegal. This needs to be investigated and changed if needed. Who wants to help with that?


Kale Force meeting of July 9, 2008

July 11, 2008

Well, it’s been while since I’ve posted to this blog. But we had a good meeting of the Kale Force this week. A dozen people showed up, shared some good food, and talked about the usual good stuff: growing more food, eating more food, and working towards a proper local food economy.

The special guest for this month was Wendy Devlin, who very kindly agreed to come out and talk to us about saving seeds. She ran down some of the good reasons to do so, and helped us get our heads around how to get started saving seeds. It looks as though we’ll have a follow-up meeting in September to go out to her place and do some hands-on seed-saving.

I reported to the group on the demonstration garden project up in Sliammon. I’m working with some folks up there to set up a little garden in the front area of the Ahms Tah Ow School. On July 21, we are holding a public consultation meeting to give people in the community an opportunity to offer their ideas and advice.

I also reported briefly on our little effort to start a cooperative for the purpose of increasing local food production. So far we’ve been thinking about urban farming, maybe creating a small farm or network of backyards in the city, and using that as a way of producing food which can be distributed through a CSA or to the Open Air Market, or some other way of getting the food to where it is needed. It’s early days yet, but we have a core group of people working away at it and I hope that we’ll come up with something good in a few months.

Doug Brown asked about the by-laws regulating animals in the City of Powell River, and I agreed to pursue that. More details to come soon.