Following a pilot project, City council gave third reading to the Chicken Bylaw at this week’s meeting, permitting a certain number of residents to raise chickens in Red Deer.
Throughout the pilot, site visits were conducted with 30 of the 35 registrants, which included a tour of the coop areas. This past February, the City sent letters to all persons living within 100m of all project registrants as well.
“We had a minor amendment tonight to elevate the cost of the proposed license from $23 to $28, but I think in general what we saw tonight was a very cautious and what I would say is a conservative provision for allowing some urban chickens,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
“Council has ultimately voted to allow 65 licenses out of Red Deer’s 40,800-plus homes. Recognizing that our community was very much divided on this issue, we needed to bring some resolution to it and bring some provision particularly for those families that were in the pilot (project) who have a desire to proceed with their sustainable living,” she said.
“But also recognizing there were some substantial public concerns around noise, smell and predators that we needed to respond to in a meaningful way.”
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.
A total of four complaints were received throughout the course of the pilot project, and three of the four complaints related to noise and smell.
The pilot project also allowed for up to six chickens, but administration recommended that be reduced to four.
Ultimately, council passed third reading of the bylaw in a four to two vote with Councilors Lawrence Lee and Buck Buchanan opposed. Councillors Dianne Wyntjes, Tanya Handley and Paul Harris were absent.
Lee said in talks with local residents, concerns over disease and the lack of training required for would-be urban chicken owners were some of the reasons he voted against the bylaw.
Councillor Ken Johnston, who supported the bylaw, said it was a matter of building regulations and a policy infrastructure around it. The success of the bylaw, he added, of course depends on those who raise the chickens and how well they adhere to the details of the bylaw as well. Plus there is room to reexamine it down the road.
“Let’s take a look at the issue in June of 2015 and decide where we go from there.”
Councillor Lynne Mulder said she supported the bylaw and felt that many of the concerns had been cleared up during the pilot project process.
“I believe that we have done this right. I believe we have given this issue a lot of time – we haven’t rushed it,” she said. “I believe we have heard the concerns and have addressed them in the bylaw.”
Veer added that the bylaw outlines that for those 65 households that ultimately will be raising chickens, there are rigorous provisions that will filter through those licenses. “I would venture to say that anyone who isn’t going to be a responsible chicken owner wouldn’t be eligible for a license in the first place,” she said.
“It’s also a highly enforceable bylaw in that the provisions are very clearly spelled out. If someone is in substantial breach of those provisions, they wouldn’t be eligible for a license renewal within a year.”