Penhold officials wary of backyard chickens

By JOSH ALDRICH Advocate staff The growing trend of chickens in urban settings is not being met with open arms in the town of Penhold.


Advocate staff

The growing trend of chickens in urban settings is not being met with open arms in the town of Penhold.

The issue was brought before the town council recently, seeking more information on the issue.

They are waiting for the Red Deer Urban Chicken Pilot Project to finish before they make any final decision.

But Councillor Mike Walsh made it clear that he does not want chickens in the town.

“I think farm animals should stay on the farm,” he said.

Walsh has several major reservations about the subject, most notably the idea that they attract more wild carnivores like coyotes into the community, especially considering Penhold is smaller and more rural than Red Deer.

He also has concerns over smells and increased neighbourhood noise, either from the chickens themselves or from nearby dogs.

Penhold passed the Wild Domestic and Poultry Bylaw in 2008 which prohibits the backyard poultry within town limits.

Walsh did live in Red Deer before moving to Penhold and says his neighbour across the street did have chickens, but does admit they did not have any big problems with noise and smell.

Charity Briere, a member of the Red Deer chapter of the Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK), said the concerns that Walsh and others have are understandable, but with tight regulations and guidelines those concerns are manageable.

In the Red Deer pilot project, for example, households are limited to six hens and roosters are strictly forbidden.

“I think a lot of their concerns are legitimate . . . I don’t want my next-door neighbour to have 20 chickens and five roosters and a huge disgusting mess, none of us want that,” she said.

“By having these rules . . . there’s no reason it can’t work for anybody.”

Briere says her family has seen benefits to taking part in the project, from knowing more about their food, it’s quality and controlling how it was raised, to educational aspects about the birds.

Also the chickens have been a friendly talking point for the Brieres and the neighbours. She says she has received no complaints so far.

The project started in 2012 and in February 2013, was extended until May 31, 2014.

There are currently 40 households in Red Deer taking part in the project and, according to Erin Stuart, the permits and licensing supervisor for the City of Red Deer Inspecting and Licensing Department, there have only been two formal complaints lodged over the course of the pilot.

There is an online survey local residents are being asked to fill out, regardless of chicken ownership, at the results of which will play into the project’s final report before council on May 26.

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