On Givo Hassko’s Maple Ridge property, there are Indian fantails, Budapest short-faced tumblers, and any other number of trained pigeons that he’s either bought, bred or fostered over the years.
A director for the Vancouver Poultry & Fancy Pigeon Association, Hassko estimates there are around 300 pigeon owners across the Lower Mainland. He says he’s heard from many of them, outraged by the District of North Vancouver’s recent ban on the birds.”It does not seem in any way correct how they’re going by it,” he said.
Prior to council passing the bylaw, staff said the only active complaint file the district had was from newly elected councillor Betty Forbes — and the only person they could identify who had pigeons was her next-door neighbour.Pigeon feud: North Vancouver approves ban targeting councillor’s neighbour
Forbes recused herself from the vote and discussion, but Hassko says members of the pigeon community are worried it will set a precedent in other communities where the birds are currently allowed.”It’s not just about our pigeons anymore,” he said.”It’s more about what your neighbour next door can to do to you if they don’t feel like you belong in that little area.”
Indian Fantail pigeons belonging to Hassko. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)Pigeons allowed in most of Metro Van
Before the vote, District of North Vancouver staff admitted they hadn’t done extensive research on pigeon rules throughout Metro Vancouver.
But a CBC News analysis of regional animal control bylaws found only two other municipalities explicitly banning poultry, with only the District of North Vancouver explicitly signalling out pigeons.Several other communities, including Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey have specific rules around how many pigeons a person could have, or how they need to be cared for.
Hassko said the district’s previous rules allowing pigeons, enacted in 1971, “was one of the best bylaws in the Lower Mainland,” and that a ban usually only incentivizes people to keep pigeons secretly, free of regulation.He also believes the district had several alternatives to resolve the dispute without resorting to a ban.
“They could have easily picked up a phone and emailed and said ‘hey, can you help us with this bylaw and this situation?'” he said.
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