BY RYAN WELLICOME
Thirteen residents have already shown interest in the Urban Hen Pilot Project since the City began accepting applications following the approval of the bylaw in late June.
The application process began July 4th and as of July 7th six applications have already been completed and submitted to the City.
The City of Lacombe will only issue 10 licenses to property owners who have been approved as part of its year-long pilot project. Following the first reading of the Urban Hen Bylaw, City administration conducted a survey in order to gain feedback from the public.
“We did a survey as part of the bylaw draft and so a lot of that focused in on the level of interest, level of support for having (an urban hen property) adjacent to you as well as identifying any types of concerns people would have,” said Corporate Services Director Michael Minchin.
Much of the public concern was centered on whether or not the urban hens would create a nuisance.
“The concerns were some of your typical things regarding nuisance – noise, smell, public health,” said Minchin.
In regards to whether or not residents wish to see urban hens in the community, the feedback has been fairly positive.
Out of 321 total responses, approximately half were interested in keeping urban hens and 64% were in favour of having hens in their neighbourhood.
“It only affects 10 properties and their adjoining neighbours so it will give us a chance to see what the issues are and how it will work in the community,” said Minchin.
The pilot project was introduced, in part, as an initiative to promote local food production and give the community better access to those locally produced foods. In the past few years, urban agriculture has become a growing trend in Alberta.
In early March, the City of Edmonton extended its one-year urban hen pilot project by an additional year.
In the project’s first year the City of Edmonton issued 19 licenses and increased the limit to 50 following the project extension. Also, the City of Airdrie introduced an urban agriculture pilot in 2014.
“We’ve borrowed significantly from other communities in terms of the licensing and notification processes so we are not reinventing the wheel here,” said Minchin.
“I think over the next year here we will see who understands the level of work that is needed and the commitment that is (involved) having these types of animals in your backyard.”
Following the pilot project, the bylaw will be sent back to council prior to the end of the licence expiry dates and will be re-evaluated.
Council will then decide whether to repeal or extend the bylaw.
As stated in Bylaw 419, licensees must be the owner of the property on which the hens will be kept or must have provided written consent to keep hens on their property. The property on which the hens will be kept must also contain a detached or semi-detached dwelling.
According to the bylaw, the entire coop must be at least 10m2 and must not be more than 2.4m in height and at least 50% of the neighbours with contiguous boundaries to the property must be in support of the application.
Furthermore, the coop must be located in a rear yard and a minimum of 0.9m from the side and rear property boundaries.
If applicants are initially denied a licence, the decision can be appealed to the Lacombe Subdivision & Development Appeal Board.