WEYBURN – Weyburn city council gave final reading to pass an urban beekeeping bylaw, enabling people to keep bees in their back yards, subject to conditions.
The city had given first reading to the bylaw, then allowed for public input on the idea to see if people would support having bees kept by residents.
Beekeeping in Saskatchewan is subject to the Apiaries Act of 2005, which requires all people keeping bees to have a certificate from the minister.
In response to the call for feedback from the public, which was posted from Oct. 12 to Nov. 4, there were 29 responses received through the website, and one formal response. Of the 29 responses, only two were opposed to allowing beekeeping in the city, and the others spoke in support of residents being allowed to keep hives.
The positive comments included the benefits of bees such as for pollination, the importance of bees to the environment, the production of honey, and improving the declining bee population.
Conditions to beekeeping include the need for an annual beekeeping licence, and a limit to the number of hives. Two active hives are allowed on a property less than 1,000 square metres; three hives on a property between 1,000 and 2,000 sq. m, and four hives are allowed on properties of more than 2,000 sq. m.
Hives must be in a back yard, and be a minimum of one metre from any property line with a fence of a minimum height of 1.8 metres.
City resident Alexandr Korytko, who had sent in a letter to council on the matter, applauded the passing of the bylaw, and spoke briefly to council.
“I think it’s great. I still think we’ll have not enough bees,” he said, adding this will help increase the number of bees in the city.
He noted he came from Ukraine in 2008 to Weyburn to work, and was actively involved in beekeeping in his village. In the years since arriving here, he has encountered four swarms of bees, and was able to help the swarms.
The main thing is to let people know that bee swarms won’t harm a person or sting them unless a person provokes a bee to sting them.
“When the swarm landed in 2008, people were going to torch the swarm. They were shocked when I relocated the swarm into a box with my bare hand, but after they learned lots about honey bees and changed their minds,” he said in his letter to council.
He noted in his home village in Ukraine, they had a population of 1,200 people and there were around 500 colonies of bees in the village.
“We will not have such an amount here, nobody really will notice them,” he told council.
• In other council business, first reading was given to rezone the land which will house Weyburn’s new hospital on Fifth Avenue North.
The land is currently zoned as Urban Holding, which does not allow for a hospital, and will be rezoned to a Health Services District Zone, which would allow for a hospital as well as clinics and laboratories, and other uses consistent with health services. The City’s Official Community Plan will also need to be amended to allow for the rezoning of the land.
A public hearing will be held at the Dec. 12 council meeting on the rezoning prior to the bylaw getting second and third reading.
With the changes to the Official Community Plan, the amendments will have to be approved by the Minister of Government Relations, and the bylaw will take effect once the approval is given.
“It’s very encouraging to see these steps being taken, bringing us closer to a new hospital,” said Coun. Jeff Richards.
“It’s a very positive step forward,” added Mayor Marcel Roy, noting this will also allow for clinics or labs to be built in the hospital’s vicinity in the future.