Grey Highlands pushes forward on backyard chicken bylaws

·2 min read

The Grey Highlands council has voted in favour of allowing residents to keep chickens in their backyards, though there is still work to be done before you are clear to build a backyard chicken coop.

Council has directed staff to complete a municipality-wide zoning bylaw amendment to allow backyard chickens on residential properties.

Staff will bring their proposed chicken legislation to a public planning hearing in November, and the issue will be brought back to council for consideration in December.

The decision came on the heels of a municipal survey, in which 85 per cent of respondents showed support for the idea, and 59 per cent demonstrated interest in raising chickens themselves.

While respondents agreed that chickens should be allowed to be kept on a variety of properties, 70 per cent thought that there should be a minimum space requirement for keeping them.

Staff prepared a draft bylaw for regulating backyard poultry. Though the bylaw has not been passed, here are some of the proposed regulations:

Staff also outlined potential penalties for violations, with fines ranging from $125 to $250. Some of the proposed fines are as follows:

Council expressed concern about enforcing the proposed chicken bylaw.

“I think people that are being impacted by neighbouring chickens need to know what their rights are, and how long this is going to go on for if there are infractions,” said Councillor Paul Allen.

“The concern I have is, if, if there's an infraction, let's say the poultry are at large ... are people going to be warned to keep their chickens tied up in the coop?” said Allen. “And if that's the case, and they get out again, I'm just concerned again that this could drag on, [with people saying] ‘oh, yeah, we'll keep them in the coop,’ and then they'll get out again. ... I think we need more defined enforcement.”

Michael Benner, Director of Building and Planning Services, stated that staff will work on outlining clear regulations for enforcement in their proposed amendments.

“As we look at bringing the bylaws back, [we can make sure that] that the bylaws do have an enforcement section to them, and we can certainly strengthen that piece, adding some kind of clarity to it and perhaps a one-, two-, three-strike kind of idea,” he said.

“We will have to work on some with our bylaw enforcement staff to get a better sense of how best to, perhaps, not immediately respond but respond in a very timely manner, especially if we have poultry at large."

Greg McGrath-Goudie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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