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Council looks at permanent options for chickens

Backyard chickens may be here to stay.

On Tuesday, Red Deer city council will consider starting a formal urban chicken project, a bylaw to allow up to four chickens per household, a bylaw that prohibits backyard chickens or explore legal options to allow chickens as a permitted accessory use.

The urban chicken issue was put on council’s plate following an Advocate article about a Red Deer family who raised chickens in their backyard in October 2011. Council approved a pilot in February 2012, allowing a handful of residents to assess the issues and impacts of urban chickens in the backyards of city homes.

Since council approved the pilot, the city has received little opposition to allowing the backyard coops.

The Red Deer chapter of Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK) has spent the past year supporting urban farmers and educating others.

Charity Briére, a member of CLUCK, said in a letter in the council report that there has been a surge in interest, online membership and feedback over the year.

But she says they do not know yet how many active chicken coops are in the city. She estimated there are 20 to 30 coops.

“The fact that so few coops are known is telling of the nature of well-tended urban hens and their coops,” she says. “They are quiet, clean and make subtle neighbours.”

CLUCK has partnered with Olds College to teach a course on urban hen-keeping later this year.

City administration is recommending turning the urban chicken project into a formal pilot, to run until March 31, 2014.

Staffers would report back to city council in February 2014 with the outcomes and for further direction.

Under the pilot, residents will be permitted to keep background chickens but must register the chickens with the Inspections and Licensing Department. Roosters would not be permitted.



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