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Domestic Animal bylaw now allows goats

Posted on May 31, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Up to two goats are now allowed on some residential properties in Coaldale.

During their regular May 23 meeting, Coaldale town council approved changes to the town’s Domestic Animal bylaw.

Bylaw 862-R-01-23 – or the Domestic Animal Bylaw – would consolidate the bylaw following amendments resulting from annexation, provide clarification to the town’s existing Domestic Animal Bylaw, and allow for the ownership of up to two goats on residential properties larger than one acre.

“The way the bylaw was written is to fundamentally allow, so we’re not going to be issuing licences for goats the way we would for dogs. The idea here being the expected, total number of people to take us up on the opportunity if (it’s) going to be so low, building an entire administrative process around it isn’t a good use of our time and money,” said Cam Mills, director of growth and investment for the Town. “We would look at this as sort of a pilot-type project to allow for us to do this for a year, and then we come back and see whether or not the program makes sense. Obviously, if we decide not to continue allowing goats, we would have some allowance for people who have them to not immediately get rid of them, but we do have an opportunity to sort of put our foot in the water and sort of test it out, see how it works for us.”

First reading of the bylaw took place during council’s regular Jan. 23 meeting.

As part of the preparation of the report for the public hearing, no feedback was received from the town’s digital engagement platform. An email was received from one resident expressing opposition to the allowance of goats on larger lots, citing concerns about property values and odor.

Coun. Bill Chapman voiced support for the bylaw, and noted that the bylaw states very clearly only up to two goats are allowed as pets. However, he asked what would happen in case it becomes more than two pets, citing cases of reproduction. Mills said in any cases where there is a limited number of animals on a property, there is generally an age limit involved, such as six months or older. If a goat reproduces, there would be a period of six months in which the owner could find a new home for any surplus goats.

CAO Kalen Hastings clarified that in terms of pro-active enforcement, there is a resource consideration, and “what we do now would be similar to what we do in this case”.

“We don’t do random property searches to see who has any unlawful livestock as it is now,” said Hastings. “If there is a complaint or they (enforcement) witness an unlawfully placed livestock in the course of their patrols, then that’s something we have the mechanism to deal with.”

Hastings pointed to Section 3.bii of the bylaw, which reads “two goats may be kept on a property larger than 1 acre in size where the property owner has received permission to do so in writing from the Town, which may be revoked at the sole discretion of the Town”. He called it a “powerful discretionary statement”, and in cases where the number of goats on a property exceeds the limit, there is clear-cut language that allows the Town to revoke that permission.

Coun. Jacen Abrey spoke against the bylaw, arguing that it could open the door to other livestock in town.

“I guess if we want to be known for something other then the Birds of Prey, we might as well be the funny farm for allowing pets such as goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, within our corporate limits to be pets within our community,” said Abrey.

Abrey expressed concern over enforcement of the bylaw and the lack of license for the goat situation, noting that one had to get a license if he had a dog, and if the dog got out you had to pay a fine.

Following the public hearing, Mills noted there were some administrative changes, such as replacing ‘Special Constable’ with ‘Peace Officer’ in Section 2.avi1.

Council passed second, third and final readings to Bylaw 862-R-01-23 as amended, in split 4-3 votes. Deputy Mayor Jason Beekman and Coun. Dale Pickering and Abrey voted against the readings.

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