June 14th, 2022
The road to this point has been long for the RM, with six public hearings until they were satisfied with the final product. “I don’t know if it was a record, but it definitely was a lot.” said the RM’s Chief Administrative Officer Courtney Huber.
Reeve Ray Wild feels the process has taken too long. “ We are never going to make everybody happy but we think we’ve got to a point where the majority of people are going to be happy.”
The changes now address concerns around lot sizes and livestock. “What we did was instead of two different size classifications we now have four.” Wild said.
The problem began in the fall of 2020 when Aimee Smith filed a complaint with the RM over the noisy roosters from their neighbours Jon and Amy Nernberg.
The Nernbergs moved to the area because they understood they could keep a flock fulfilling the dream of their then young daughter Natalie who was what her dad called “chicken obsessed.” She is especially fond of a little black silkie rooster, and the Nerenbergs have previously made a plea to the council to “leave the little guy be.”
CAO Huber provided an update on the most recent public hearing before the council approved the bylaw.
“One person called into the public hearing that questioned why the RM was changing the bylaw. We had one person send a letter that was opposed to having sheep and goats in the subdivisions, but it is important to note that the allowance for sheep and goats is not new, they have always been allowed in the subdivisions. After people reviewed the bylaw we had multiple phone calls that stated that they thought the new draft was a great compromise but these people did not submit anything for the public hearing.”
“The general consensus is that if you move out to an acreage and you have ten acres is there a reason why you can’t have a horse, or some poultry.”
The Nernberg’s are disappointed with the council’s decision. Their 5-acre property falls into a category that allows them to apply for a yearly permit of up to 15 hens at the council’s discretion. But the minimum size for roosters is 8.51 acres.
They said they moved to the property because they could keep a flock. “...now they are taking that away from us. As said in a previous article, they are citifying the country.”
The fate of Pepper the silkie rooster has not yet been determined. The council hasn’t discussed him or if he will be allowed to remain under a legacy allowance.
“We haven’t discussed that at all. Government has to approve it then we will deal with it. Council can always, at their discretion, approve or deny something.”
“We have many bylaws that council needs to approve.” Wild gave an example of accessory buildings that exceed their bylaw’s limit. “They all come before council and if you have a good reason why you need that building and if they come to us with approval from their immediate neighbours within a few hundred yards and (they) are ok with it who are we to say that its not good.”
Wild said another example was living accommodations above shops. He said that while the RM’s bylaw says they aren’t permitted when someone comes to the council with approval from all of their neighbours, “we let it go.”
The Nernberg’s say Natalie is heartbroken. “...to her (they) are not just animals that help with family meals, but they are her pets. They have been her support animals thru COVID when she couldn’t see her friends, and at low times when she feel down they bring her joy.”
Reeve Wild says he understands the noise issues between neighbours but hopes neighbours will work out issues instead of bringing disputes to the council.
We reached out to Aimee Smith for comment but haven’t heard back by publication.
Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times