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Nothing here but us chickens

Town of Barrhead residents will get a say about whether households should be allowed to keep poultry.
Town of Barrhead development and legislative services director Cheryl Callihoo said during the Sept. 12 council meeting that councillors may want to gauge residents' opinions before going any further on a possible urban chicken-keeping bylaw to see if it is necessary.

BARRHEAD - Town of Barrhead residents will get a say about whether households should be allowed to keep poultry.

During their Sept. 12 meeting, councillors approved a recommendation by administration to gauge residents' interest in whether they want to or should be able to keep chickens on their property.

The survey will be primarily electronic through the town's website, but hard copies will be available through the municipal office. Residents will receive more details on the seven-question survey and how to submit it through advertisements in the local newspaper, the town newsletter sent out in municipal utility bills, the website and social media.

Development and legislative services director Cheryl Callihoo noted that as part of reviewing the town's land-use bylaw, the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) started investigating the potential of allowing residents to keep a to-be-determined number of chickens on their property.

However, the town's Animal Control Bylaw does not allow chickens or other livestock to be kept in a residential area.

"Before we start work on a bylaw and determine what conditions we would allow residents to keep chickens, we thought it would be best to gauge residents' interest to see if this is something they even want," she said.

In the request for decision (RFD), administration notes that the municipality has received requests from residents asking to keep chickens.

Coun. Don Smith likes surveying residents to learn if this is something they would like to see the municipality pursue, but he wondered why administration did not include beekeeping.

"I think they go hand in hand," he said, adding that he would be interested in beekeeping. "And it is going to come up."

Coun. Dausen Kluin asked about rabbits, specifically if other municipalities had a similar bylaw for rabbits.

Callihoo noted the municipality has never fielded any inquiries about keeping rabbits but said they are not considered livestock.

"They would be more of a pet, like having a cat or dog," she said.

Coun. Ty Assaf, council's rep on the MPC, interjected, saying he had no issue adding beekeeping to the survey.

"Because there will be a different set of rules for bees and chickens, we decided to run with chickens first and then see where we are before going ahead with bees," he said.

The RFD also noted that in recent years, there has been an increasing interest in raising chickens as part of the food security discussion, stating that the cities of Red Deer, Lacombe, Medicine Hat, and the towns of Penhold, Didsbury, Blackfalds, Three Hills, High River, and Nanton have all introduced poultry bylaws. The Town of Athabasca and the Town of Westlock have their own poultry bylaws. 

Both Athabasca and Westlock require a permit or licence to keep the birds and limit the number to four per residence for egg purposes only. Both also prohibit the keeping of roosters.

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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