Black Press File Photo

Black Press File Photo

Urban hens close to being permanent in Lacombe

Council passes first reading of bylaw to extend pilot program permanently

Lacombe City Council wasn’t chicken of passing first reading of a bylaw that would allows for the Urban Hen pilot program to become permanent.

The program, which started in Fall 2015, allows for 10 residences to have chicken coops with four hens on their properties. Currently there are nine active licenses and one inactive license — none of which the City has received any complaints over in

“We have brought the program back so they can review the amount of licenses as well as whether it should be created as a permanent program,” Diane Piche, director of Corporate Services, said. “We have been using it as a pilot program for the last two years. We have had inquiries and requests to increase the number of licenses. The pilot program ends at the end of 2018, so we want to make sure it continues.”

City Administration encourages Council to increase the amount of licenses in Lacombe to 13 and then continue to follow a one coop per 1,000 residents model. Each potential coop does currently and would in the future require permission from at least 50 per cent of their neighbors, as well as the need to to follow guidelines of ensuring sounds are minimum, cleanliness is upheld and that the hens are treated humanly.

”Our bylaw officers have requirements they have to check off to ensure owners are meeting requirements,” Piche said. “If they are meeting those requirements — away they go.”

Several Councillors, including Jonathan Jacobson and Mayor Grant Creasey questioned the need for limiting the amount of coops in Lacombe at all considering the City has received zero complaints or concerns since the pilot began. Council also suggested that this bylaw could be reviewed yearly — rather than the five years which was written into the original pilot.

Creasey said he wasn’t sure a limit is necessary and that if it was removed, there wouldn’t be a horde of interested parties coming to the City to apply.

“I can’t think of a logical reason to why we would limit to to one per 1000,” he said. “It seems like an extremely conservative number. For those individuals that are inclined to have urban hens, I think we should enable them too — provided they follow the rules put forth.”

Piche added her only minor concern with increasing above the one per 1000 ratio would be concentration in certain areas.

“Roughly that one per 1000 is the normal, or else nothing at all. Edmonton only has a maximum of 50 licenses right now, so they have a small allowances, Red Deer is at the 1 per 1000 and in Calgary they don’t allow it at all. It varies among municipalities,” she said.

Creasey said the yearly check-in would allow the City to gauge interest and see whether more licenses are required

“I have my doubts there will be a spike in requests, but we open to making those licenses available should the need be there,” he said, adding he is thankful for the people have adhered to the bylaw in its current form.

“They are being respectful of their neighbours, which is what we hope for with behavioural bylaws,” he said,

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