Baby Strawberry, before anyone knew he was a he. (Sam Cuyler photo)

Baby Strawberry, before anyone knew he was a he. (Sam Cuyler photo)

Chicken act casualty: Rooster bylaw causing a cock-a-doodle-doo in Sointula

Strawberry the rooster facing deportation as other cocks crow and family fights back

Strawberry wasn’t planned for, exactly. He was what loving parents might describe as a surprise.

But when the chick, who hatched near the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic this year, started growing tail feathers and an attitude, he was already part of the Cuyler family.

Sam Cuyler’s daughters Cozy, 8, and Oaklynn, 5, named the rooster Strawberry and raised him like a pet in their Sointula home.

“He lived on our porch because he didn’t think he was a rooster,” Cuyler said.

And then suddenly, Cuyler got a notice from the regional district’s bylaw office telling her Strawberry and Heyhey, their other rooster, were illegal and had to be removed.

Cuyler looked around. Neighbours on all sides have roosters. She and her husband Albert grew up in Sointula, and both had roosters all their lives. She was baffled to learn of a bylaw that prohibits roosters.

In fact, bylaw 725, 2006 4.11 does state that “No roosters, cocks or cockerels are permitted” on land zoned as small lot residential. Most of the lots in Sointula around Rough Bay are designated as such.

The bylaw was added in 2017 after discussions with the Malcolm Island Advisory Commission and public hearings. But this bylaw wasn’t about restricting roosters, it was actually about allowing chickens. Before 2017, all farm animals were technically illegal in those residential zones — something most residents easily ignored or never knew.

Regional District of Mount Waddington’s (RDMW) chief bylaw enforcement officer Jeff Long said the decision to exclude roosters from the chicken act (formally the Urban Hens bylaw) was made to be in keeping with a general clause that you can’t undertake activities that are nuisance to other people. In an urban environment, rooster wake-up calls in the wee hours could be considered a nuisance.

Why weren’t Cuyler’s neighbours being told their roosters were illegal, too?

Because no one was complaining. It seemed Strawberry and Heyhey had been singled out by a neighbour, who Cuyler says called the bylaw officer “incessantly” to the point where he came all the way to the Island to “find the culprits.”

Cozy and Oaklynn weren’t having it. The sisters masked up and started banging on doors to collect signatures for a petition to rescind the so-called rooster bylaw.

By late November they handed in 170 signatures to their local RDMW representative, Sandra Daniels, who will take up the issue with the Malcolm Island Advisory Commission. If the group agrees to recommend a change, the RDMW board will then consider it. If the board approves, a public hearing process would kick off before a binding decision could be made. All of that would take months.

On Dec. 10, Cuyler received a letter from the RDMW bylaw office saying she had until Dec. 18 to remove the roosters or face a fine of $100. A second offence would be $250, and if she persisted in keeping Strawberry and Heyhey in violation of the bylaw, she would be fined $500 every day thereafter.

So for now the roosters have been moved to a new home elsewhere on the Island where zoning allows for farm animals, including cock-a-doodling roosters.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


Farming

Just Posted

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, will be available for a Q&A through the Vancouver Island Regional Library Jan. 28. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library)
Everything Vancouver Island needs to know about the Indian Act and was afraid to ask

Online Question and Answer session with author Bob Joseph open to all Vancouver Island residents

A Courtenay resident labours to remove the snow build-up from around her car in February 2019. The area may see snow throughout the coming weekend. Black Press file photo
Snow, winter might not be done with Vancouver Island quite yet

Flurries, snow and cold temps predicted for the weekend for mid-Island

New population estimates peg the population of Greater Victoria at 408,883 as of July 1, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Population estimates peg Greater Victoria’s population at 408,883

New estimates show regional population grew by 1.35 per cent

The Salvation Army’s 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign includes a new $5 tap feature for pandemic-friendly donations. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
EDITORIAL: Alberni Valley steps up in time of need

There are a lot of ways the outside world interprets Port Alberni…

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A rainbow graces the departure of CCGS John Cabot as it leaves Victoria Jan. 7. (Canadian Coast Guard/Facebook)
Follow a coast guard ship’s trip from Victoria to Halifax, through Panama Canal

Canadian Coast Guard Ship John Cabot left for St. Johns on Jan. 7

Curling season is over at the Parksville Curling Club and Qualicum Beach Curling Club. (PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: Parksville and Qualicum Beach curling clubs forced to end season

Restrictions impact financial sustainability of both operations

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

NEW CUTLINE Pacific FC fans fill the stands during a game at the former Westhills Stadium
 Starlight Developments has purchased the naming rights from the City of Langford for the next 10 years.(Gazette file photo)

Pacific FC slid into third place in the league after defeating FC Edmonton 1-0 at Westhills Stadium on Saturday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Langford sells stadium naming rights for $500,000 to Starlight Developments

10-year sponsorship deal largest in the history of Langford, says mayor

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read