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Backyard rooster driving neighbours crazy, North Cowichan has no solutions

Poultry bylaws don’t preclude roosters at this time
North Cowichan currently has no bylaws to prevent roosters on properties bigger than 0.4 acres (Citizen file photo)

It doesn’t seem likely that a North Cowichan couple will have their issues with a rooster on a neighbouring property dealt with by the municipality any time soon.

A discussion around a letter from Martin and Judy MacDonald that was sent to North Cowichan council at its meeting on May 3 regarding their problems with the rooster that “cock-a-doodle-doos” loudly every morning before 6 a.m. ended without any clear resolutions.

The MacDonalds said the rooster’s early morning antics are causing them mental and physical stress. The couple said in their letter that they have no problems with their neighbours’ backyard chickens, but the rooster is a new addition.


“We have been dealing with [North Cowichan’s] bylaw services since March 23 and they have been very understanding, but said they can only work within the present bylaws,” the MacDonalds said.

“[The bylaw officers] said the current bylaws allow the rooster to make very loud noises any time of day or night. We feel the bylaw should be amended to deal with this noise problem.”

Coun. Christopher Justice said that in 2019, when North Cowichan adopted a new animal responsibility bylaw, the municipality was asked by a number of people to rethink its policies on poultry, particularly in regards to roosters.

“Council decided at that time that, because we were about to review the official community plan, that we would put a place-holder on that and come back to it when we were redoing our zoning bylaws,” Justice said.

“Now that we are about to redo our zoning bylaws, are we reconsidering our policy with respect to the keeping of roosters, particularly in rural-residential areas?”

Rob Conway, the municipality’s director of building and planning, said North Cowichan’s current bylaws state that only properties that are more than 0.4 acres in size in North Cowichan are allowed to have poultry on them, and that roosters are not prohibited.

He said other jurisdictions are increasingly allowing backyard chickens, but many are precluding roosters.


“This is an issue that has been tagged as something we would look at during the review of our zoning bylaws,” Conway said.

“We’ll be looking at opening up opportunities for some sort of poultry on smaller properties and there will likely be some regulations that will go along with that, and that could be that roosters are not permitted, but hens are.”

Conway acknowledged that the MacDonalds’ problems with the neighbours’ rooster can’t be currently dealt with by North Cowichan, but he said the issue could be an opening for council to consider whether it wants to have provisions put in the bylaw during the review to deal with the issue of backyard roosters.

CAO Swabey suggested that if council took the bylaw pertaining to poultry from zoning bylaws and placed it back into the animal-control bylaws, where it was before 2019, it could be used to deal with existing issues. Council moved on to other business without making any decisions on the MacDonalds’ noise dilemma.

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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