Chickens ordered removed from home
Okotoks: Resident wants pilot project for urban chickens
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
What was a source of food for one Okotoks family has landed them afoul of Okotoks’ pet bylaws.
Okotoks resident Jennifer Bailey has been ordered to get rid of four hens she has had in her backyard since July.
She said she will comply with the order and will remove her chickens, but she plans to approach Okotoks town council after the election to ask for a pilot project to allow people to have hens in their back yard.
“I know there are other people that have them, I know there are other people that want them, so I would love to see a pilot project,” she said. “Hopefully, they can come back. Hopefully, the new town council will approve it once we go through the process.”
Bailey built a small coop in her backyard and has kept four hens since the beginning of July. She is passionate about supporting local food sources and saw it as a source of food for her family.
“I bake my own bread, I can, I try to grow as much as I can myself,” she said. “I support my friends that are farmers, so it just made sense to get my own eggs.”
Bailey also viewed it as an opportunity to teach her children where their food comes from. Each of her three sons had one hen to look after.
“The hens have their own names and the boys love them,” she said.
Bailey said she only uses the animals for eggs and would not raise chickens as a source of meat for her family. As well, she doesn’t have any roosters and she said she keeps the chicken coop clean.
“My coop is spotless, my hens are quiet, I back onto a green space,” she said. “My hens are quieter than most dogs.”
Bailey could face a $250 fine if she doesn’t comply with the order to get rid of the chickens and a $500 fine for a second offence.
Okotoks’ bylaw boss said people are not allowed to keep chickens, or other livestock, at their homes under the town’s bylaws.
Tim Stobbs, Okotoks Municipal Enforcement (OME) Team leader, said chickens are a nuisance in urban areas.
“Some people may not mind having hens next to them, but if you make it lawful what if the person next door objects to it because they make noise or because they raise stink,” he said.
Stobbs also said agricultural operations are not allowed under the Town’s land use bylaw.
“If they want livestock the appropriate place for livestock is in a rural environment, not in a close urban environment,” he said.
Stobbs said people who may not be certain if an animal is allowed in town should check with bylaw officers first.
However, Okotoks Coun. Florence Christophers said she would consider implementing Bailey’s proposed pilot project.
“I’m very open to looking at the pros and cons and engaging our community and getting a sense of whether or not this is something they’d be interested in trying,” she said.
She said there are other communities in Canada that allow chickens in back yards, including Vancouver. She said she toured community gardens and urban chicken projects during a conference in the city earlier this year. She said it works in Vancouver and could be possible in Okotoks.