BY MARK WEBER
Lacombe City council passed second reading of Bylaw 419 – Urban Hens at this week’s regular council meeting.
It’s expected that third reading will take place at the June 27th meeting.
Although it was originally planned that third reading would go ahead this past Monday, there was disagreement over some of the contents of the proposed bylaw at this point.
According to council notes, at its meeting on March 14th, council had given first reading to Bylaw 419.
Council also directed administration at that time to conduct a survey of the public as well as have information available to the public. Administration conducted a survey using both paper and electronic mediums. The survey was initiated at Coffee with Council and ended on May 6th.
The survey conducted by the City had a total of 321 responses.
Also, according to council notes, in general, approximately half of those surveyed or 170 were interested in having urban hens and 64% or 206 were in favour of having hens allowed in their neighbourhoods.
Councillor Grant Harder said he didn’t think it was fair to pass a bylaw that has the potential to negatively impact property values of adjoining properties.
Councillor Peter Bouwsema said, however, that the reason council was discussing the issue was because citizens had requested it.
“Considering the fact the bylaw is very restrictive and extremely conservative in the amount of licenses that will be issued…we’re talking a very small amount of residents being able to have the opportunity to enhance their lifestyles with urban hens,” he said, adding there is a $50 licensing fee that would have to be paid annually.
“I feel quite confident that we would be able to do this extremely well in our community,” he said.
Councillor Wayne Rempel said that one of the things he bases his decision on is what is best for the community and what the community has been saying to him.
“In this instance, one of the things that was loud and clear to me was the amount of people in support of this compared to the people who were opposed to it,” he said. “Between the emails, phone calls and messages I had way more people – probably almost 10 to one – that responded to me that they would like to see this happen.”
Councillor Bill McQuesten said he was concerned about a lack of means to effectively enforce the bylaw. He also raised the issue of how neighbours might feel about a given home having a coop.
“As it sits right now, I would struggle to support something like this.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Steve Christie said he felt that the supporters of urban chickens had been patient and upfront with their requests.
“Is it something that we can implement and try? If it works, it works. If it doesn’t we can change it, adapt it.”