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Maple Ridge mom fights to keep backyard chickens for sick daughter

Last Updated Aug 13, 2020 at 2:17 pm PDT

A Maple Ridge mom is hoping the city will change its mind and let her keep six chickens her daughter has come to rely on for food. Danielle Tidmarsh says her daughter needs the fresh-farm eggs from the chickens due to a disorder. (Submitted: Danielle Tidmarsh)

A Maple Ridge mother who was told to get rid of her chickens is fighting to keep them

Danielle Tidmarsh says her daughter needs the farm-fresh eggs the chickens lay due to a disorder

Tidmarsh says farm-fresh eggs were hard to find at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, worries that will happen again

MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) – A Maple Ridge mother wants the city to get rid of what she calls “crazy, outdated” bylaws, after she was told to get rid of the backyard chickens that help feed her sick daughter.

Danielle Tidmarsh got the chickens at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when it got harder to buy farm-fresh eggs, which her 11-year-old daughter, who has Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, relies on.

“We always get farm-fresh eggs because we know there’s no additives and it’s all organic and it’s a protein she can digest and not get sick with,” Tidmarsh tells NEWS 1130. “With CVS, it’s like a vomiting disorder and it’s caused by food and stress and different elements.”

Tidmarsh says her daughter will sometimes throw up for several hours, getting to the point of dehydration and pain that she needs to go to the hospital. She’s been sick since she was five years old.

The Maple Ridge mother of two was relieved when she discovered her daughter could eat farm-fresh eggs without causing any issues. However, the pandemic hit, making it harder to find them.

“One of our direct neighbours have chickens, so we figured it was totally fine, it was no different,” Tidmarsh explains.


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The family bought the birds as chicks which have grown to now produce the eggs her daughter needs. But on Wednesday, Tidmarsh says she was told by the city that the birds would have to go.

She spoke with the bylaw officer about her daughter’s situation, to no avail.

“She did not care about my daughter’s illness. I asked for an exemption or if there was anything we could do and she said, ‘Nope, the law is the law, I can’t do anything, I’m just here to do it,’ ” Tidmarsh recalls, noting a complaint to the city apparently set things in motion.

The bylaw officer apparently said she would ask a supervisor but came back with the same response: nothing could be done.

Tidmarsh says the chickens have become part of the family.

“I absolutely cannot get rid of them, they’re amazing,” Tidmarsh says, adding the chickens aren’t loud. “It’s no different than a barking dog, and, in fact, my neighbour’s barking dog is much louder than anything that happens in my household.”

She’s hoping the city will make changes to its bylaw to allow these farm birds on some residential lots, under certain circumstances.

“I would like to see them change these crazy, outdated laws so that they do it per lot size, like Vancouver, like New West. In Vancouver you can have a 3,000 sq/f lot and you can have up to four hens,” Tidmarsh says.

“In Maple Ridge, where we’re mainly agriculture, it’s like they’ve dictated that some lots can be agricultural if you’re over an acre. Who the hell has an acre lot?”

For now, Tidmarsh has been given two weeks to get rid of the chickens, named Squishy Paws, Brucey, Shirley, Reni, Georgia, and Piggy.

Michelle Orsetti, Maple Ridge director of bylaws, confirmed the department received a complaint about backyard chickens.

“The resident lives in an area where backyard chickens are not permitted. Backyard chickens are allowed in agricultural zonings and some of our more rural areas,” she said.

“Our staff have done some research on local suppliers of organic chicken eggs and can provide that information to the resident directly to address the health issues for their family member. We keep the identity of people who make a complaint confidential, but we can report that we do not ‘patrol’ to address this issue and only act on a specific complaint.”