Following the release of a bombshell email, an independent review is set to determine if District of North Vancouver council followed the letter and spirit of the law in passing a pigeon ban.
Mayor Mike Little called for the review after CBC News published an email sent from Coun. Betty Forbes to Couns. Lisa Muri and Megan Curren on July 6, 2019 - two days before Muri introduced a motion to ban pigeon keeping in the district. Curren seconded Muri’s motion at the July 8 meeting.
“I am sending this to you to let you know that my priority request is to pass a new bylaw outlawing pigeons in the District of North Vancouver,” Forbes wrote on the morning of July 6.
Forbes listed several complaints involving pigeon droppings on her pool, roof, shed and fence. “They also roust [sic] on my roof, shed, fence, and trees that hang over my yard,” she wrote.
Forbes concluded the email by writing: “I will be recusing myself from discussion and voting if you feel that is best (I believe it would be).”
Forbes lives next to pigeon keeper Kulwant Dulay and has made several complaints to the district regarding his homing pigeons.
B.C.’s Community Charter “prohibits a locally elected official from using their office to attempt to influence a decision of the local government if that elected official has a direct or indirect pecuniary [financial] interest in the matter.”
In May 2017, prior to being elected, Forbes spoke to council about backyard chicken and pigeon keeping, explaining that coops have a “financial impact” on neighbouring properties.
She also outlined her concerns in a letter to council regarding backyard chickens and pigeons.
“According to some real estate professionals I have talked with, a coop in a neighbour’s property will impact [a] buyer’s offer. Why am I going to pay financially for the choice my neighbours make?” she asked.
After being elected in 2018, Forbes recused herself from council discussions and votes on the pigeon bylaw.
At the conclusion of a Nov. 18 meeting, Forbes made a brief statement regarding the pigeon bylaw.
“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 the conflict of interest rules,” Forbes said.
A councillor can be disqualified from holding public office for violating the Community Charter. However, there are exceptions: “if the contravention was done inadvertently or because of an error in judgment made in good faith.”
Dulay has said he will consider hiring a lawyer to overturn the pigeon ban.
Mayor Little asked the district’s chief administrative officer David Stuart to commission the review. The review will apply to the councillors as well as the mayor.