Bee bylaw closer to reality

Falher is the Honey Capital of Canada and boasts the world’s largest bee. It now appears High Prairie town council will allow bees within its boundaries, despite fears and concerns from some residents.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The process to allow anyone wanting to keep bees or chickens in High Prairie inches closer to reality.

High Prairie town council agreed at its May 26 meeting to ask its bylaw review committee to draft a bylaw to allow the insects and foul within its boundaries, but at first on a two- or three-year pilot project.

The bylaw will be drafted using the City of Grande Prairie’s bylaw as a guide, which is very strict when it comes to regulating hives and coops.

“Bees are good for the ecosystem,” said Councillor Judy Stenhouse.

“Chickens go to sleep,” she added, not unlike loud mufflers or dogs barking all night.

“We don’t check on dogs and cats to see if they have a good home,” she added.

Councillor Michael Long agreed with the bees but wasn’t so sure about the chickens.

“I know what a chicken coop smells like,” he said.

“I’m 100 per cent in favor of beekeeping in town.”

Councillor Donna Deynaka also agreed, noting there were already strong regulations in place regarding beekeeping.

However, she wanted to take a careful approach first, and suggested a pilot project to see how things would proceed.

Town senior peace officer Alan Bloom agreed.

“This is where an effective bylaw comes in,” he said. “No grey areas.

“I like the pilot project,” he added.

He did suggest if anyone abused the bylaw, he preferred a clause where there was no second chance. Hives would be removed that would end it.

Mayor Brian Panasiuk also liked to pilot project approach.

He noted that a survey sent out indicated 65-35 per cent support of bees and 75-25 per cent support for chickens.

Mackenzie Municipal Services Agency conducted the online survey and had 289 responses. It was the highest number of people responding to any online survey for the town so far.

The survey was launched April 7 and ran until May 9.

Comments and concerns from the survey

Following are some of the concerns cited in the survey. Comments in favour were not included in the report. Many of the concerns would be addressed by the strict bylaw proposed.

“I am deathly allergic to bee stings.”

“This is a municipality, not a farm.”

“Not completely against this, but am concerned about peoples’ allergies. Just really unsure of the way bees react and concerns of bee stings.”

“Lots are not big enough to ensure bees won’t be a bother to neighbours.”

“Bees do not belong in residential areas. They would be dangerous to people who are allergic to them. If they swarm they can attack. I would not feel safe if my neighbours had bees because I couldn’t enjoy sitting outside or having my windows open for fear and annoyance of bees. Do not allow this to happen in our town.”

“Owner must have training. Must have high enough fence. Facility must be inspected.”

“Bee raising belongs in the country.”

“Do I need to spell it out for you? Some idiot isn’t going to keep care of the things and there is going to be bees stinging the hell out of everyone and their pets. Why would you move into town if you wanted to farm? It is outrageous that the city would even entertain something so asinine and stupid. Give your collective heads a shake.”

“There is a reason why they are out in the farm. Where they cannot be bothered and don’t bother and bite. I am allergic to it and my son is allergic to it as well. We were bitten once because the owner decided to move the bees and they are not happy so they were into us…”

“We don’t need a bee swarming town to live in.”

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