Councillor asks town to consider allowing urban hens in residential backyards

KINGSVILLE — Coun. Larry Patterson has asked that the current review of the animal control bylaw also look at the feasibility of allowing urban farmers to raise chickens in their backyards.

He said a number of local residents have spoken to him about the possibility of raising chickens in the downtown core.

Despite a bylaw prohibiting chickens in urban settings, Patterson said the practice is not uncommon in Kingsville residential areas.

Patterson said animal control recently made a sweep of the municipality’s urban areas and residents raising chickens were told the birds had to be removed. He said the residents were given an appropriate amount of time to remove the birds.

Raising chickens in urban settings is growing in popularity in North America as more people look for a homegrown source of food. Patterson said that trend has increased because of COVID-19.

Locally, Tecumseh launched a two-year pilot program early last year allowing residents to raise urban hens.

The program allows up to six hens for properties under 10,000 square feet and an additional hen is allowed per 3,000 square feet up to a maximum of 12. The annual licence fee is $25 and requires an inspection of the property by the town’s building department.

Vancouver allows a maximum of four hens per home — no roosters are permitted. Residents are not allowed to slaughter the chickens for food. Toronto has just finished a pilot program which allows raising hens in certain areas of the city. No roosters are allowed and like Vancouver, there is a four-hen limit. Owners are not allowed to slaughter the hens on the premises and they can’t sell eggs for profit. The chicken coops must be of proper size, lockable and subject to inspection.

“There aren’t any complaints about noise or unsanitary conditions in any of these locations,” Carl Bandow, who oversaw the pilot project, told the Toronto Star. “We’ve made a couple of educational visits about coop sizes, but everything seems to be going smoothly.”

Patterson said many adjoining homeowners don’t know their neighbours have chickens. He said many complaints are the result of long-simmering feuds between neighbours — not because the chickens make noise or create odour.

“This is the part that irritates me that when neighbours get into a dispute they start looking for infractions.”

Patterson, who supports the regulated raising of chickens in urban areas, said much of the resistance to chickens stems from the misconception that roosters are needed to produce eggs. He said eggs served for breakfast are unfertilized.

The Kingsville councillor said town administration will likely be looking at many of the rules and regulations used by municipalities like Toronto and Vancouver when it reviews the animal control bylaw and prohibitions on raising chickens.

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