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Council to seek public opinion on draft to allow urban backyard hens

The municipality is recommending public opinion on a draft bylaw to keep chickens in urban backyards of the County.

Currently, raising backyard hens is not permitted outside of rural zones. In May, councillor Kate MacNaughton brought forward public interest and requests for small flocks to be allowed in residential areas.

She requested a report outlining necessary steps to allow backyard chickens, and bring existing flocks into compliance.

County resident Rachel Kuzmich, also spoke to the proposal at last month’s committee of the whole meeting, noting she wanted to keep chickens, specifically for eggs.

“I understand that properties zoned as rural can keep livestock. I imagine this bylaw was developed to keep large or commercial operations in rural areas,” she said. “This all-or-nothing policy seems outdated given many municipalities in Ontario allow backyard chickens,” noting areas such as Toronto are seeing success with its backyard chicken pilot project.

Staff has reviewed bylaws enacted in various other municipalities and found common rules for set backs, coop and run sizes and locations.

They include:
• Define to permit egg-laying hens, as opposed to meat hens.
• No roosters permitted.
• Limiting number of hens – range of 4-8 hens.
• Requirement of fenced enclosures.
• Prohibition of home slaughter.
• Prohibition of egg sales.
• Requirement of cleanliness of hen coops and hen runs.
• Adequate manure storage.
• Requirement of licenses, or not.
• Requirement of informing neighbours.

Municipal staff have created a draft bylaw to move public consultation beyond the basic question of whether the keeping of hens should occur, or not. Following public consultation, a recommendation is to be brought forward in the fall.

Enforcement of any future bylaw would be complaint-driven. The staff report notes the County is not aware of any existing, or outstanding, backyard hen complaints.

The issue comes to council’s next meeting July 21, for approval.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    I’m all in favour of the public having the opportunity to share their ideas and concerns with council – so good for our council for wanting to listen.

    I have friends in Toronto who have neighbours who keep chickens on the urban lot. At first most thought that it was harmless and amusing – not so much now. Chickens being chickens like to wander, their toilet habits need to improve and they can be noisy and smelly. All in all, I think both the community and council need to think carefully about this issue.

  2. angela says:

    Can’t council do anything without “public consultation”? From the Macdonald statue to backyard chickens they apparently are incapable of a decision. The chicken issue is just common sense. There cannot be that many pros and cons to it. Surely council should be capable of drawing up and enforcing sensible regulations for backyard chickens if they decide to allow them. Chickens do not seem to be the best fit in an urban setting for a variety of reasons. They have a habit of wandering onto neighbours’ property (regardless of fencing) and digging in gardens. I find it interesting that council can quickly decide to give $40,000. of the taxpayer’s money to the Regent but seemingly is unable to take a decisive stand on urban chickens. The only urban chickens should be at KFC.

  3. Local says:

    Are you kidding me?! Concerns about wildlife increasing like foxes and coyotes? We live within arms reach of nature, surrounded by open fields and forest. Tourists, cars and domesticated cats and dogs already have a larger damaging effect on our environment. The home to foxes, coyotes and raccoons. Chickens bring us food!

  4. Gary says:

    My concern is the other undesirable wildlife that will be attracted within town.
    We are already dealing with a constant racoon problem. We have foxes in our urban backyards and even walking down the sidewalks. Coyotes which presently are on the edges of town seeking food and domestic animals may broaden their territory within town. Chicken feed really attracts rats and mice and this could be prevalent with the introduction of backyard chickens within town.

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