A Vernon resident is asking council to tweak its city bylaw to allow urban beekeeping in all zones. (File photo)

A Vernon resident is asking council to tweak its city bylaw to allow urban beekeeping in all zones. (File photo)

Urban beekeeping in Vernon urged

Residents wants bylaw tweaked to allow urban beekeeping in all Vernon zones

Urban chickens are allowed under bylaw in Vernon residences.

Dawn Tucker wants urban bees approved.

The Vernon non-conforming five-year urban beekeeper has asked the city to change its bylaw to allow urban bees in all zones, not just a specified couple.

“The current bylaw allows beekeeping in only a couple of zones, to very specific zones and numbers,” said Tucker. “Many other communities are moving forward with urban beekeeping. We have urban chickens, which is great and proactive in terms of moving forward.”

Bees, said Tucker, are important to North America as they pollinate flowers, which helps communities to enjoy flowers and gardens. She keeps six colonies of bees at her Vernon home.

“Our wild colonies have diminished,” she said. “As a kid, I remember seeing honeybees and bumblebees, but as I got to be an adult, I didn’t see them anymore.”

Tucker said Okanagan College’s Kelowna and Penticton campus offer introductory to beekeeping courses.

“There are hundreds of urban beekeepers in the Okanagan,” she said, adding her neighbours enjoyed watching Tucker work with her bees until she moved them as she put in a fence.

The city’s current bylaw was created in 2006 and Coun. Juliette Cunningham thinks it may be time to revisit the rules.

“I think we’re all becoming aware of the risk of loss of bee populations,” said Cunningham, referring to local business Planet Bee which lost many bees due to a sudden, unidentified cause. “I think it’s really critical.”

RELATED: Vernon beekeeper concerned after spike of deaths in bee population

Council will discuss Tucker’s request at its next regular meeting Aug. 13.

Goose cooked

The city insists it’s doing everything it can to keep Kin Beach free of goose poop.

But as chief administrator Will Pearce pointed out, following complaints about the beach’s conditions from Couns. Dalvir Nahal and Catherine Lord, public works manager James Rice and the staff’s best efforts to keep the beach clean are “attracting every goose in the valley.”

“Just about everything municipalities do to accommodate people on a beach attracts geese,” said Pearce. “The fact we have a nice lawn adjacent to the beach attracts geese. It’s short grass, regularly manicured and watered, and it attracts geese.

“What tends to discourage the public from going to the beach — letting the grass grow, not cutting, not watering, mist netting the beach (putting a fine nylon net over the beach), or fencing the beach, would not be acceptable to beachgoers, and there would be safety issues.”

Rice explained the city has a contractor who works seven days a week from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m, “before the beach gets busy,” using dogs and noisemakers to scare away the geese. He does a manual clean of the beach in those hours.

“There are other mechanical means (of cleaning) but it would come at a significant cost,” said Rice, adding the city is part of the Okanagan Valley Regional Goose Control program. “The contractor uses a variety of scare tactics to keep geese away from the beach, but they do become de-sensitized, and it’s a huge issue.”

Rice estimated there are about 150 geese living at Kin Beach and producing anywhere from three-to-four pounds of waste on any given day.

Nahal called the beach “disgusting.” Lord said she went to the beach on a Saturday and “had trouble finding a four-foot clean spot on the grass to put my towel.”

A letter writer to The Morning Star also complained about the beach’s condition.

RELATED: Letter: Kin Beach visitors deserve better

Rice said July is the worst month for geese.

“The geese are not flying, the young are getting to a certain stage before they fly,” he said. “They will be moving on in the next two-to-three weeks.”



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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