Skip to content

Red Deer mayor applauds urban hen owners

Council considering lifting a cap on backyard chicken licences
Red Deer is considering lifting a cap on backyard chicken licences. (Photo contributed)

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston had words of praise for the city’s urban hen owners as council got its first look at bylaw to lift a cap on licences.

“I feel invited to make a comment on this, and that is to congratulate the great citizens of our city for really being a leader in this space for the last five or six years,” said Johnston on Tuesday.

“We brought in urban chickens and that have been at this point a wonderful addition so I appreciate that.”

Red Deer was one of the first communities in Alberta to allow backyard chickens when it first tried out the idea in a pilot project introduced in 2012. Since, many Alberta communities have followed suit.

Council approved first reading of amendments to the Chicken Bylaw but did not offer any debate on the proposal, which will come back to council for further readings on April 15.

The city is considering lifting the cap on backyard chicken licences because of a steadily growing waiting list since licences were restricted to one licence per 1,500 residents back in 2014.

“The demand for licenses has exceeded the supply… There are currently 140 applications on a wait list, which has grown exponentially since 2017, when the wait list was 35,” states a report to council.

Although there are now about 67 chicken licenses in the city, complaints about backyard chickens have been minimal. The seven complaints in 2023 were mostly related to unlicensed chickens and roosters.

“With the addition of licences, the instances of unlicensed chickens will likely be reduced,” city administration has concluded.

The report to council states that having no cap would be in keeping with the community’s desire to keep more chickens that produce eggs, and would negate administration’s need to manage the wait list.

The proposed amendment includes raising the administrative chicken licence fee to $36.15 from the previous $27. This would align with the city’s licence fee for neutered dogs.