TRENT HILLS – The waiting game has ended for a Campbellford couple who keep chickens in their backyard.
The municipality has made good on its threat to charge Kelly and Shawn Bacher with a zoning violation that carries with it a maximum fine of $25,000.
“I’m surprised it’s gone this far,” Ms. Bacher said in an interview Feb. 9, shortly after receiving a summons that she and her husband are to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Campbellford Feb. 23.
The Bachers have secured the pro bono services of Karen Selick, litigation director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation. The Belleville lawyer represented Michael Schmidt, an Ontario dairy farmer convicted last fall of 15 provincial offences relating to selling raw milk.
Ms. Bacher said she feels “a lot better” knowing Ms. Selick will be defending the couple in court.
Director of planning Jim Peters reiterated the municipality’s position that “there’s ample choice” in Trent Hills to raise farm animals outside urban areas.
“It’s a lot of work to keep a few chickens, and to keep them healthy … you need a little bit of land to do that,” he said.
Trent Hills council had originally given the Bachers until Oct. 31, 2011 to remove the seven hens they keep outdoors at their Doxsee Avenue home because its residential zoning doesn’t permit agricultural use. The couple refused and were given another deadline, Dec. 12, which also passed without incident.
The couple has had the chickens for more than two years, but the municipality didn’t act until it received a complaint last summer.
Ms. Bacher claims she went to the municipal office and spoke to staff before acquiring the chickens.
“I asked them for a list of animals you can and cannot keep within Trent Hills,” she said…”