If you own an average-sized property in St. John’s, you are now limited to two bird feeders.
St. John’s council voted Tuesday evening to enact an amendment to the St. John’s Residential Property Standards Bylaw.
That means it’s officially city policy to permit only two bird feeders per residential property, except where the lot area is in excess of 465 square metres. In that case, one additional bird feeder is allowed for every additional 465 square metres.
The amendment also states bird feeders must be regularly cleaned and disinfected, kept free of wet or spoiled food, and not be accessible to rodents.
The changes also prohibit feeding of wildlife on a residential property or leaving food on a property that might attract wildlife.
The suggestion was originally brought forward by Coun. Ian Froude last month.
Mayor Danny Breen said he didn’t agree with the idea at first, but he has since changed his mind.
“It’s common in other municipalities to have restrictions on the amount of bird feeders on properties, and so it seemed to be something that would be of assistance in helping out with the rat issue,” Breen said.
Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary said she has spoken with people in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, where they have a similar policy, and she heard positive remarks.
Breen acknowledged it might be difficult to enforce the bylaw, and city staff will address it on a complaint basis. The city will only investigate properties if it receives a complaint.
He said complaints about rodents have increased in recent years, and this is one step among many the city can take to address residents’ concerns.
He said the implementation of automated garbage collection also helped reduce rodent problems in areas where it’s been implemented.
While Froude previously said the bylaw caused “quite the flutter of conversation” both in support and criticism, Breen told reporters Tuesday evening that he did not receive any pushback about the idea.
“The only feedback I’ve received is support for it – emails from people who think it’s a good idea, and originally I was kind of on the fence about it, but after hearing the people, if it will help with the problem and help alleviate it, then I’m certainly all for it.”