City council voted in favour of increasing the cap for chicken licenses in Red Deer.
Third reading was given to the Chicken Bylaw on Monday afternoon.
The increase to the cap on the number of licenses under the Chicken Bylaw is from one per 1,500 to one per 1,000. There are 32 residents on the waiting list to raise chickens in the City with 65 residents currently holding a license for chickens.
“In terms of feedback from the community, we’ve had very minimal complaints regarding this,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “This translates into approximately 20 licenses, so it’s not a substantial number. It’s a recognition of the demand that’s there.”
The bylaw was originally adopted in 2014 with the initial number of licenses that could be issued set at 65 licenses, and a cap to limit the number of licenses issued to one per 1,500 persons. At the time, the intent was to introduce the concept of urban chickens but to restrict the number of households to prevent potential issues from arising.
Council notes show that demand for licenses has exceeded the supply, and continues to increase annually and the Inspections & Licensing Department has received a number of inquiries on why there is a restriction on the number of licenses.
Council notes also point out there are a number of benefits to both the individual licensee, as well as the community which include locally produced food; greater control over food sources and companionship.
Benefits to the community as a whole include increased opportunities for local food production as per the Environmental Master Plan, reduction of municipal solid waste through consumption of table scraps and other organic waste by hens and pest control.
Currently, dogs and chickens are the only animals that have mandatory licensing requirements under their respective bylaws. This amendment will ensure the Chicken Bylaw is consistent with that of the Dog Bylaw.
Throughout the aforementioned pilot project, site visits were conducted with 30 of the 35 registrants, which included a tour of the coop areas.
During the pilot project, a total of 1,850 letters were sent out to those living within 100m of homes with urban chickens.
Of those, 478 were returned.
Of those, 287 were in support of the bylaw regulations, 170 were not and 21 were undecided.
“I wanted to make a comment as a I opposed this the first time around,” said Councillor Tanya Handley. “I only got positive feedback (about the increase in licenses) and that is why I changed my vote. I think it’s a good move and it can always be revisited if we see a real spike in complaints or instances or anything like that.”
– with files from Mark Weber