Original Published 09:27 May 11, 2022

By Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A trend of citizens raising chickens is growing among towns and cities in North America. Although some residents in Pincher Creek have been known to keep the birds in their backyards, owning chickens within municipal limits technically ran afoul of the town’s animal control bylaw.

However, after local resident Tracy Glen submitted a request for council to consider changing the bylaw, council has directed administration to prepare a proposed amendment that would permit chickens.

The direction was given during council’s April 25 regular meeting.

Glen based her proposal on the Calgary Urban Hen program, a pilot project allowing 100 Calgary homes to keep three hens for a year. Glen suggested a similar program could be run in Pincher Creek, with 25 homes starting out with three chickens each.

To limit noise and manure, the proposed program would allow only egg-laying hens and prohibit roosters. Hens would be required to stay at all times within a coop or chicken run, constructed to provide a minimum three to four square feet per chicken. The community bylaw officer would conduct inspections to ensure containment was appropriate.

Glen suggested the town could require licences or restrict chicken-keeping to certain areas of the town as a way to keep tabs on the birds.

Overall, Glen said in her conversations with residents around 30 households expressed an interest in keeping chickens. Many municipalities in Alberta are beginning to allow chickens as a way for residents to improve their food security and educate themselves and their children on animal husbandry.

Coun. Wayne Oliver said he was in favour of progressing with the amendment process due to the thoroughness of Glen’s proposal, particularly in outlining potential concerns and offering practical solutions.

“I think Tracy’s done an excellent job with outlining and taking care of what would be concerns for neighbours,” he said.

One aspect Coun. David Green suggested would need clarification in the amendment was the coops and chicken runs themselves.

“If there’s any part of this that would make the neighbours curious, it would be what type of structures would we allow — how big would they be, how would they look, how were they finished. Those are normal considerations when a bylaw is established,” Green said.

All in all, council members agreed the idea to amend the animal bylaw was worth pursuing.

“The thing that I like about this is connecting back with our rural roots and to be able to have a little bit more food security in our community,” said Coun. Sara Nodge. “And chickens are fun.” 

Administration will bring proposed amendments back to council to vote on during a future meeting. 

The next regular council meeting will take place Tuesday, May 24, 6 p.m. at council chambers.

This item reprinted with permission from Shootin’ the Breeze, Pincher Creek, Alberta