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Backyard chickens now allowed to roost in County’s urban centres

UPDATE: Bylaw to allow backyard hens was approved by council Nov. 24.

OCT: 29 Backyard chickens may not come to roost in urban centres in the County following a tie vote by councillors at Committee of the Whole, Thursday.

The tie means a bylaw permitting chickens and outlining regulations fails, but could be revived at council’s Nov. 10 meeting.

In May, councillors directed staff to report on appropriate requirements for permitting backyard hens and steps that also bring existing flocks into compliance. Public consultation followed through advertisements and a survey.

Rules were made for setbacks and size restrictions for coops and runs, care and control. Staff also reviewed bylaws from similar rural communities and considered their approaches to regulations.

Members of the public raised concerns about straying hens, smell, cleanliness and spread of sickness and avian virus.

While several councillors noted regulations looked like they would cover most of the objections, others were not swayed by bylaw rules including specifications for runs, enclosed coops and maintenance standards for hens, manure and disposal of dead stock.

Councillor Phil Prinzen suggested any spread of disease would likely caused by people who didn’t know how to handle the birds, more than other birds spreading avian disease.

“All jokes aside, are we going to be training our bylaw workers on the cleanliness of chicken coops?” he asked. “What is clean to you may not be clean to me. Are we going make that clear?”

Councillor Ernie Margetson said the report and bylaws covered most of the concerns, spoke to negative issues and could be overcome.

Councillor Janice Maynard also support the bylaw, noting nine other municipalities with similar regulations. “This is not exactly ground breaking,” she said.

Enforcement of the bylaws would be complaint-driven, as is current property standards
enforcement practice. Municipal staff stated they are not aware of any existing or outstanding backyard hen complaints.

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