A backyard chicken in an unnamed town. Barry Coulter photo

A backyard chicken in an unnamed town. Barry Coulter photo

Backyard chicken debate comes home to roost in Cranbrook

After being cooped up for nearly a decade, the city’s backyard chicken debate has come home to roost.

Following requests led by two councillors two weeks ago, the city will be considering backyard chickens as part of a food security policy within the ongoing work to update the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP).

“This is a piece of food security that some of the public really want council to move into, so therefore through the OCP process, looking at the whole piece,” said Councillor Ron Popoff. “We’ve had other organizations come to us about greenhouses and vertical greenhouses and composting and bee-keeping…”

“Let’s take the time, let’s look at everything in that full context. It might take a bit longer but we’ll get there with what the interests of the public are.”

A brief overview provided by staff looked at 11 similar-sized communities with best practices for residential hens, including timelines for legislated process for public consultation.

Most jurisdictions had similar rules, such as no more than six hens, no roosters and no on-site butchering, along with licensing requirements.

Monday’s city council agenda package also included a letter from a resident opposing urban chickens, citing experiences while living in another community where an neighbour had a coop with hens, which they would slaughter from time to time and attracted raccoons and birds of prey.

Urban residential hens last came up at the city council table nearly nine years ago.

Currently, urban hens in residential properties are prohibited in the city’s animal control bylaw, however, there is an exception under Residential Transition (RT) zoning bylaw.

Other Kootenay communities that allow urban hens include Sparwood, Castlegar and Creston.