BONNYVILLE - “The University of Alberta reports that Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba produce 79 per cent of Canadian honey, and that prairie canola and other crops are very heavily dependent on bee pollination,” Lisa Folliott, the manager of Planning and Development for the MD of Bonnyville told council.
On April 13, Folliott presented a Bee Keeping Municipal Regulation Report to the reeve and councillors, following a request by council to do so.
'Save the Bees' has become a social movement to help foster bee activity, Folliott noted.
In the province of Alberta, the keeping of bees is regulated under the Alberta Bee Act and its associated regulations.
Registration with the province is required for all hives by the end of June every year regardless of their scale of operation.
“Beekeeping is currently an allowable discretionary use in the MD Bonnyville in the agricultural district, as per our land use bylaw… which is listed as a discretionary use in the Agricultural District,” Folliott explained to council.
Preliminary research carried out by the MD’s administration has shown that the production of honey is a permitted land use in the Agriculture District within the County of Lac La Biche. Honey production can also be approved by their council in Country Residential Districts, as it is considered discretionary use for that specific zone.
In the City of Cold Lake, the production of honey is considered as an extensive agricultural operation and is permitted within their Urban Reserve District.
However, a representative from the City informed the MD’s administration a beekeeping request has not been made within Cold Lake’s jurisdiction for quite some time.
In the Town of Bonnyville, beekeeping of any kind is prohibited under their Animal Control Bylaw. The Town has no intention of adding apiaries to their Land Use Bylaws, according to information gathered by the MD.
However, in 2019, the Town did issue a special approval permit for one hive, but added numerous conditions, explained Folliott.
Both Coun. Dana Swiggart and Coun. Ben Fadeyiw, expressed that they would like to see the municipality’s Land Use Bylaw changed to include increased allowances for property owners to set up their own hives.
Swiggart said that a MD resident had reached out after being informed that his two beehives on a three-acre parcel of land had been in contravention of the municipality’s Land Use Bylaw forcing him to shut down his small beehive operations.
“I'm just surprised we don't allow it,” said Swiggart. “So, I'm hoping that we can either change our Land Use Bylaw or give him a variance.”
In agreement, Fadeyiw added, “There's people out there that are doing it already. Let's keep them legal and let's change it.”
Whether or not an increased allowance for beekeeping and apiaries will take place within the MD will be decided at a future council meeting when more information is brought forward.
Council approved a motion directing administration to bring additional information regarding the feasibility of increasing the allowance of level for keeping bees within the municipality back to council for further consideration.