Westward Independent

The Rooster War: How One Family’s Farm Dream Became a Legal Nightmare

by Westward Independent
0 comment

Do you recall a time when neighbours lent a hand to one another, and small communities thrived on mutual reliance?

Nowadays, we often hear tales of neighbours reporting each other for minor infractions, like having a trailer in the yard for their kids or a tiny home—or, in this case, keeping roosters.

On a modest plot of land on Salt Spring Island, there’s a family realizing their dream of a small-scale farm, not just for themselves but to contribute to the community and raise their children. Yet, this dream turned into a nightmare when a neighbour took issue with the roosters’ crowing, and later, the dogs on their property.

Initially, when the first complaint arose, a local bylaw officer, who has since retired, empathized with the family, deeming the grievances unjust. Even before the CRD (Capital Regional District) became involved, the family, eager to uphold neighbourly respect in their tight-knit community, invested significant time and money to mitigate the noise. They moved the coop, soundproofed it, and even swapped their roosters for quieter ones, all to no avail as the baseless complaints and citations persisted.

The family meticulously documented their efforts to address the concerns and maintain their farm. False accusations, such as leaving the roosters out at night, something any owner of chickens would know was not a practice, only exacerbated the situation. The family then dealt with multiple bylaw officers, many who seemed to understand their plight, but seemed to be unable to use their own discretion as it seemed the CRD was persistent in their mission. Upon filing a Freedom Of Information Request, they received a 330-page report revealing the relentless barrage of emails from the neighbours in question to the CRD bylaw, escalating up the administrative ladder.

Attempting to address the issue at a community commission meeting, the family was barred from discussing their rooster predicament by CRD legal counsel. However, many in the community rallied behind them, recognizing the unjust harassment faced by a family that provided chicks to the community.

Bylaw officers frequently trespassed on their property, issuing more tickets. Nearby, another family faced similar complaints and tickets but found relief in court, where the judge emphasized the need to “tread carefully on farmer’s rights”. 

At one juncture, a noise test conducted from the neighbour’s house found the roosters well within noise bylaw limits. Later, another test somehow yielded higher levels, to the neighbour’s advantage.

Despite the family’s persistence and community support, the CRD remained unyielding, escalating the situation to criminal charges carrying hefty fines and potential jail time, removing their ability to just fight the tickets as the other family had done. Leaving the initial visit to the court, the family was slapped with three more tickets, which just felt cruel to them at that point.

A year has passed since the summons was issued, and their day in court was to be on Friday May 17th, where protestors gathered outside. The case ran out of time, so another date was set to continue the second half of the trial. Nonetheless, the community has united behind their cause. Groups like the Salt Spring Poultry Club have organized meetings and fundraisers to help the family secure legal representation as they’re determined to stand up not just for themselves, but for all small farmers all over the CRD, and are refusing to be intimidated.

Keep up to date on this story at: www.saltspringpoultry.com. A GoFundMe has been set up for legal fees https://tinyurl.com/ssifarmer

A petition to protect food security on SSI https://tinyurl.com/securityrooster

You may also like

Leave a Comment

As a dedicated grassroots newspaper, we unearth exclusive valley stories and events that remain hidden elsewhere. With passion and fearlessness, we expose what happens behind closed doors, giving you a sneak peek into the heart of our community. Experience the pulse of our valley like never before. Welcome to a newspaper that punches above its weight, where local voices come alive with every turn of the page.

©2024 All rights reserved. Designed and Developed by WWIND.