Residents to discuss backyard hens

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 08:38 am

From Left, Diamond Valley residents Margaret Krichbaum, Heather Gillis and Berri-Lynn Levert hope to get approval to raise chickens in their backyards. A public meeting regarding the issue will be held in the lower level of the municipal centre in Black Diamond on Feb. 24.
From Left, Diamond Valley residents Margaret Krichbaum, Heather Gillis and Berri-Lynn Levert hope to get approval to raise chickens in their backyards. A public meeting regarding the issue will be held in the lower level of the municipal centre in Black Diamond on Feb. 24.
Wheel File Photo

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Diamond Valley residents clucking over the possibility of hens roaming their neighbours’ backyards will have the opportunity to hear get more information on the issue.

The Town of Black Diamond is hosting an open house for the Diamond Valley Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK) in the lower floor of the municipal building on Feb. 24 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to share information about its proposal for a backyard hen pilot project.

The club made a request to Black Diamond and Turner Valley councils last month to allow residents to have egg-laying hens in their backyards as a one-year pilot project.

Margaret Krichbaum, club member and Turner Valley resident, says hens provide fresh, chemical-free eggs to local residents and reduce bugs and weeds.

“If we monitor the people really well we will have a positive experience,” she said last week.

At the open house, club members will list the benefits of backyard hens and address common concerns including noise, disease, unsightliness and predators. These are also listed in a PDF available on both communities’ websites.

Both Towns posted a survey to gather public opinion on the proposal, including what residents view as benefits and hindrances, how long the pilot project should run and how many residents should participate. Diamond Valley CLUCK did some of its own surveying in December, visiting 52 random Turner Valley homes and asking residents how they would feel if their neighbor had a few hens in their yard. Krichbaum said 80 per cent didn’t mind the idea while 20 per cent either had concerns or were strongly opposed.

Seven residents expressed interest in being involved with the project, she said.

“It seems positive,” she said. “Most people really don’t mind what’s going on.”

Krichbaum said the open house will give the club a better idea of what people think of the proposal. It will include the presentation made to council, displays of hen runs and a question and answer session.

Turner Valley resident Kara Martin said when she learned about the proposal she was immediately in support.

The Turner Valley resident keeps hens at her parents’ home outside of Turner Valley and thinks urban henhouses would be a healthy opportunity for her neighbours.

“This project will be a real hit as long as we’ve got good support from the community and from the Town,” she said. “I think it’s a really big trend that’s catching on.”

Turner Valley resident Cheryle Dobbyn is in support of the idea, but she has some concerns. Being involved with animal rescue for years, she is worried some people might not properly care for their hens and questions what will happen to birds that are too old to lay eggs.

“It’s the care of the chickens that I’m concerned about, it’s not whether it’s going to interfere with the town,” she said. “I’ve got no concerns about that.”

Dobbyn said it’s important those involved with the project agree to have their yards inspected without notice.

“It would have to be open season on your chicken coop,” she said. “If you are saying we are coming at 3:00 on Thursday they could have it all set up beautifully by 3:00 on Thursday.”

Those concerned about the potential for smell and noise need not be, said Diamond Valley resident Berri-Lynn Levert, a member of Diamond Valley CLUCK.

She said some people expect it will be similar to living near a chicken farm with hundreds of chickens, but that won’t be the case with the number of birds limited for each yard.

“When you have four to six in your backyard it’s different,” she said. “Chickens are really no different than a pet dog or a pet cat.”

The benefits of the project far outweigh any negatives, according to club member Heather Gillis.

“I just think it’s environmentally sustainable – it takes care of the earth, it takes care of people,” she said. “I believe this is an important step forward in terms of doing good things for the planet and tomorrow’s generation and for us now. It’s one small step in a large picture.”

In order to take that step, Gillis said it’s important to educate residents.

“The more people who can get engaged and the more discussion you can have people become more informed,” she said. “It’s a step forward.”

The club will offer education sessions on backyard hens on Feb. 26 and April 30 at the Sheep River Library, both from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call the library at 403-933-3278 to book a spot.

Surveys will be available at the open house, both town offices and online at the Sheep River Library. The survey will close on Feb. 28.

The results will be discussed at both town council committee of the whole meetings with Turner Valley’s on March 3 and Black Diamond’s on March 25.


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