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Posted: June 10, 2014

11-year-old grabs council’s ears on chickens

An 11-year-old girl’s suggestion had City of Cranbrook council’s full attention last night.

Sierra Oatman, a Grade 6 student at Highlands Elementary School, wrote a letter to the city earlier this month, enquiring about the possibility of council changing its mind on allowing residents within the city to raise chickens (“laying hens”).

Her letter made it to the June 9 council agenda and created a lively go-around with city elected officials.

Sierra pointed out in her letter that Vancouver residents are allowed to raise hens based around “simple rules: Maximum of four hens (no roosters) per lot; no other fowl or livestock (goats, turkeys) are allowed; eggs, meat and manure cannot be used for commercial purposes; no backyard slaughtering,” she wrote in her hand-written (cursive) letter.

“I do not understand why a big city of around two million people can raise hens in city limits but a small town of about 22,000 people cannot. I want to eat healthy and raise hens that have not been fed hormones or steroids and I want to eat eggs that do not have preservatives in them. Can you please reconsider or possibly change this bylaw for our small community, to make it a healthier and happier place?” Sierra concluded.

Some council members were tickled pink by her letter.

Coun. Angus Davis credited her for a great letter and told Sierra, who was in the public gallery with her mom Pam, he was “100%” behind her suggestion, adding he believes the girl to be brave. “Way to go! Don’t ever stop doing what you are doing,” he exclaimed.

Coun. Gerry Warner, who has attempted in the past to have the city consider allowing some backyard livestock raising, stated, “Your mom should be proud! We’re losing that connection of what is real. Sometimes it is the children who lead the adults. You can count on my vote.”

Coun. Sharon Cross pointed out Sierra’s request “speaks to a wider global issue around food security and poverty reduction. It’s something we need to keep on the radar.”

She then wryly informed Sierra: “I think it will be addressed at some point in time when we get our ducks in a row.”

Coun. Denise Pallesen noted to her that “if you are not allowed to have your own chickens” there are stores in the city that offer organic goods.

Coun. Diana J Scott said she was impressed to see a letter from a child.

“A lot of people complain about things and want things to change but don’t write a letter,” she said before noting concerns about Sierra’s suggestion. “It sounds lovely in principle but there are lots of things to consider,” she said.

Mayor Wayne Stetski said Sierra’s suggestion will come back to council “as a motion in the future,” hinting he would make it.

Lead photo: Sierra Oatman, left, with her Mom Pam Rousson outside council chambers Monday night.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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