County of Stettler council decided to begin the process of adding “urban chickens” to their Land-Use Bylaw (LUB) during their regular meeting May 13.
Some councillors were present in person at the chambers, some attended the meeting electronically.
A report to council on the concept of “urban chickens” was presented to councillors by director of Planning Services Jacinta Donovan.
“Ratepayers requesting to keep chickens on a small scale for personal use have periodically approached the County of Stettler regarding an amendment to the Land-Use Bylaw,” stated Donovan in her report.
“Currently, the keeping of chickens falls within the definition of an ‘Agricultural Operation’ within the County of Stettler Land-Use Bylaw and as such does not allow for the keeping of chickens outside of the Agricultural (A) and Country Residential – Agricultural (CR-A) Districts.
The addition of ‘Urban Chicken’ definitions and regulations to the Land-Use Bylaw would allow for the expansion of small scale keeping of chickens into the Country Residence (CR), Country Residence – Small Lot (CR-SL) and the Hamlet Residential (HR) districts as well.
“In order to gauge the support and/or opposition for this type of amendment a small survey was sent to landowners of properties within the districts that would be affected by this type of an amendment. Approximately 270 surveys were sent out near the end of January with a request to return the survey no later than March 1, 2020. A total of 31 surveys were returned (14 per cent).”
Donovan stated of the 200 surveys mailed out, 58 per cent were in favour of allowing urban chickens in hamlets, 36 per cent were opposed and two per cent were indifferent.
Coun. Dave Grover stated he felt that turned out to be a very small number of responses.
Donovan stated that the mail-out asked the question, “Should urban chickens be allowed in hamlets?”
It was noted that an amendment to the Land-use Bylaw, including public notices and a public hearing, would be required to allow urban chickens in such a fashion.
Donovan’s report also included comments from ratepayers either in favour or opposed.
One comment in support stated, “Yes! I personally would like to have hens for eggs, and pests (insects) control and maybe help with lawn maintenance.
“Hens would not be a further nuisance than owners of cats and dogs. They would be quieter (than some dogs) and contained. Cats wander and dogs escape.”
One comment opposed stated, “No. If you want chickens and chicken poop… move to a farm. That is why I do not live on a farm.”
Coun. Cheri Neitz asked if only the mail-out was used to collect feedback.
Donovan answered, yes, just the mail-out. Donovan stated the mail-out wasn’t sent to Botha or Gadsby because both those communities had their own Land-use Bylaw at the time of the mail-out.
Coun. Ernie Gendre asked if the Erskine responses were available separately. Donovan stated, no, individual community responses were not available.
During discussion councillors mentioned specific details of urban chickens, and Donovan noted those specifics would be determined later if councillors decided to move ahead with the LUB amendment process.
Reeve Larry Clarke asked what effect urban chickens would have on county peace officers, such as investigating complaints.
County CAO Yvette Cassidy stated that chicken complaints have come in from the Hamlet of Gadsby so it’s possible peace officers would have to add such complaints to their workload.
Councillors decided to move ahead with the LUB amendment to add urban chickens, with the amendment being publicly advertised followed by a public hearing at a later date.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter