Canada: Pigeon Ban Leads To Conflict Of Interest Allegations In B.C. Community - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada Pigeon Ban Leads To Conflict Of Interest Allegations In B.C. Community

00:10  23 november  2019
00:10  23 november  2019 Source:   huffingtonpost.ca

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pigeons that led to a district-wide ban on owning the birds says council should receive more training around conflict - of - interest rules. "If I have erred in any way, I assure council and the community that it was done inadvertently and in good faith with my understanding, as a new councillor, of

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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 did not respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

a woman smiling for the camera: District of North Vancouver Councillor Betty Forbes© Provided by Oath Inc. District of North Vancouver Councillor Betty Forbes

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.

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“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.

a flock of seagulls are standing in a parking lot: A man feeding pigeons in downtown Vancouver.© Provided by Oath Inc. A man feeding pigeons in downtown Vancouver.

Earlier this year, she had at least three conversations with fellow Councillor Lisa Muri regarding pigeons, according to emails. In July, she asked Muri to pass a bylaw to outlaw them, according to an email obtained by CBC.

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“I have a pool that pigeons fly over and poop as well as flying and roosting on the rest of my property,” she wrote July 6. A few days later, Muri requested staff ban pigeons from the district.

Staff would later tell council they knew of only one person in the district who had pigeons, Dulay, and only one person had filed a recent complaint, Forbes.

That didn’t stop council voting 4-2 for the ban in November. Forbes recused herself, declaring a conflict of interest, but she still might’ve breached B.C.’s Community Charter that prohibits councillors from influencing council votes, recommendations or decisions.

At a Nov. 2018 council meeting, Forbes made her first public statement regarding the controversy.

“It has always been my intention to act with integrity in the best interest of the district both as a private citizen and as a councillor,” she said. “If I have erred in anyway, I assure council and the community that it was done inadvertently and in good faith with my understanding, as a new councillor, of the conflict of interest rules.”

She called for more conflict of interest training for councillors.

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Droves of concerned citizens also spoke.

“I am passionate about transparency and trying to work things out as neighbours,” said Dulay’s neighbour Krista Page, who came out in support of the family. “I just feel this is very much a misuse of power.”

Givo Hasko has been breeding, showing and rescuing pigeons for a decade. He told council “We are here for a love of pigeons. We feel this is a corrupt way of passing bylaws.”

Others were concerned about pigeons causing damage with their frequent acidic poops, and the possibility they could spread disease. Corrie Kost said his parents final years in their lake-side apartment would’ve been more pleasant if it weren’t for the pigeons pestering them.

The pigeon prohibition will come into effect May 2020.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada.

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