Pigeon Ban Leads To Conflict Of Interest Allegations In B.C. Community

The District of North Vancouver is now investigating council after it passed a bylaw targeting a councillor’s neighbour and pet pigeons.

A new pigeon prohibition in a North Vancouver community has roused suspicions that a councillor’s continued grudge against the birds has led to a serious conflict of interest.

Thursday, in response to concerns from the public, district Mayor Mike Little ordered an independent investigation into the events leading up to and the passage the controversial ban known as the “Pigeon Prohibition Bylaw.” It bans residents from harbouring what some consider intelligent animals (who mate for life!), and others believe are rats with wings.

The chief administrative officer will look into the conduct of all councillors, including Little.

The pigeon squabble started almost three years ago, when Kulwant Dulay and his multi-generational family moved to the north shore neighbourhood and transformed a dilapidated backyard chicken coop into a charming miniature cottage for his homing pigeons.

“I fixed it up. I wash the coop every week. I keep it clean. There’s no smells at all,” Dulay told councillors Nov. 18. He and his family wash the pigeons and clean up their droppings.

His neighbour, councillor Betty Forbes, saw the situation differently. She declined to comment, as the independent review is being conduct and therefore would not be “appropriate.”

In emails to staff, released through a freedom of information request and first provided to CBC News, Forbes complained of her neighbour’s pigeons flying over her house and landing on her roof, and requested staff review a bylaw from 1971 to “control” the look of the coups, and limit the number allowed.

“Both chickens and pigeons can carry disease and are dirty,” Forbes wrote to staff in May 2017, before she was councillor. “How can you control health risks, monitor that the chickens or pigeons are being kept in approved coups, under humane living conditions, food is stored so as not to attract other animals, the number of kept birds is within the by-law?”

Forbes was elected Oct. 20, 2018. Five days later she requested staff act on her “pigeon complaint.”

“I have been patient but I feel that 1.5 years of asking for this issue to be dealt with in accordance with the bylaw is long enough,” Forbes said in her email.

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