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Airdrie City council passes bylaw amendments to allow backyard hens

Council passes bylaw amendments to allow backyard hens After a successful three-year pilot project, Airdrie residents can now apply to permanently house backyard hens at their residences.

After a successful three-year pilot project, Airdrie residents can now apply to the City to permanently house backyard hens at their households.

The approval comes after bylaw amendments at an April 6 City council meeting.

“The feedback we received provided support for a city-wide implementation,” said senior planner Gail Gibeau at that meeting.

According to Gibeau, the three-year pilot project saw 49 residents participate in the backyard hen program while City staff monitored results. The pilot took place from 2017 to 2020.

While feedback was mostly positive, one participant was removed for guideline infractions, and the City received one complaint of noise and odour.

Moving forward, Gibeau said approvals will be based on land size. She said sites smaller than 400 square metres can have a maximum of two hens, while sites equal to or over that can have a maximum of four.

While training was required for participants of the pilot project, Coun. Tina Petrow questioned the requirements in the bylaw amendments.

“It’s put in there as a recommendation,” she said. “My personal opinion is that it should be compulsory. I’m sure a lot of our pilot program participants would probably agree that there’s a lot more [to consider] than they anticipated going in.”

Gibeau said clauses could be included in the amendments to address Petrow’s concerns when future amendments take place.

A Bayside resident who was also a part of the pilot project is happy he has been able to participate and introduce backyard hens to his household. 

“I am a very healthy person,” said Robbie Riley. “I train every day, my daughter is a competitive swimmer. For me, health and fitness is a big thing.”

Riley said his family already maintains a vegetable garden, and that prior to the pilot project, they would source free-range eggs every week from a farmer outside of the city. Now, with four hens at his residence, his family is able to source another healthy portion of their diet straight from their backyard.

“This is more humane than buying eggs from these big factories,” he said.

According to Riley, he can collect up to four eggs a day from his hens, which is more than enough to feed his family. While the Rileys have gone above and beyond in terms of the construction of the hen’s coop and maintenance, he hopes the City will do its part to ensure everyone who applies to take part in the program does everything properly.

“If you are going to have this big program, there has to be some way to manage and monitor this,” he said. “If it gets out of hand and people start doing whatever they want, next thing you know there [are going to be] predators coming into neighbourhoods.”

Jordan Stricker, AirdrieToday.com
Follow me on Twitter @Jay_Strickz