After a long discussion where several councillors asked for clarification on the rules and Mayor Chernoff expressed a number of concerns about the program, Castlegar council decided to move forward with an 18-month pilot project that will allow for the keeping of egg-laying hens in backyards.
The pilot project will begin on Mar. 1, 2017 and has room for up to seven residential properties. Regulations regarding the keeping of hens and coops will be put into place, as well as a steering committee that will review and comment on the implementation of the project. The committee will include professionals and residents.
“It is important for people to note that this is a pilot project — anyone who is going out and just purchasing chickens and starting up on their own is going to ruin it for everyone,” said Councillor Deb McIntosh. “You have to follow the guidelines. The application process itself is quite stringent.”
According to supporting documents presented at the Nov. 7 city council meeting: “The goal of the pilot project is to further understand the impacts of urban hens and to determine good husbandry principles within an urban context. It will also allow the City to further study the potential issues and concerns that are associated with keeping urban hens.”
Councillors Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff and Dan Rye asked that a public meeting be a part of the implementation process. Council decided to hold that meeting once the steering committee is in place so that the people from the committee — those with more knowledge as to the keeping of chickens — will be available to answer questions.
Mayor Chernoff voted against the motion stating several concerns, including safety issues surrounding the use of electric fences in areas where children frequent. “I see a lot of issues here,” said Chernoff. “My number one issue is safety in view of electricity.” He was also concerned about the amount of volunteer hours that the pilot project requires and whether those that are enthusiastic about it in the beginning will maintain their commitment throughout the process. Chernoff also voiced concerns about the difficulty of monitoring participants and enforcing the rules.
Participants will be required to sign a letter of understanding acknowledging that they understand that the program may be cancelled after the pilot project and they would then have to remove their chickens.
Basic guidelines for the project include:
- Five hens maximum per eligible household.
- Notification be provided to all immediate neighbours.
- Hen coop shall not be visible from the street. The hen structure/enclosure shall be sited to the rear of the principal building,be set back from any property lines and be constructed in a way to eliminate infiltration from predatory animals and rodents and sound attenuation.
- Urban hens are restricted to properties with one single detached dwelling.
- No roosters are permitted.
- Proper cleaning and animal husbandry must be followed at all times.
- Hens may not be slaughtered on site.
- Chickens must be kept in a hen house without access to the larger enclosure at night.
- All hens must be at least four months old.
- Coops and pens will be a maximum 10 m2 and two meters in height.
- Housing requirements are a minimum 0.37m coop space and 0.92 m2 enclosed run space per hen,coop structures must be roofed with an approximate 15 cm perch for each hen and one nest box.
In addition, there will be requirements for electric fencing.