Assiginack approves one-year backyard chicken pilot project

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ASSIGINACK – Following several requests over the past few months to allow for backyard chicken coops, Assiginack council approved a one-year pilot project, which is seeking no more than 10 households to tend to chickens in their own backyards.

A staff report to council, which was discussed at its May 28 meeting, noted that the topic of backyard chickens is a polarizing one.

“Those with greater agricultural experience and those charged with dealing with animal control issues have a very negative view of urban chickens, while those who are interested are very passionate and willing to meet whatever requirements are put in place to allow them to attempt to supply their own eggs,” the report notes.

Staff came across a recent bylaw from the Town of Powassan which, if approved, council decided to use as its pilot project model. A synopsis of the bylaw follows:

Chickens will not be allowed to roam the property at large, nor will roosters be permitted. Fully enclosed coops must be kept in the backyard, and only up to five chickens will be permitted.

The bylaw also has specific rules as to where the coop must be located, the cleaning of manure, disposal of dead stock, cleanliness, feed and the slaughter of animals. The bylaw includes a schedule of fees which lays out fines of $30 for a first offence for breaking the bylaw, $45 for a second offence and $60 for a third and all subsequent offences.

Council approved the one-year pilot project at the May 28 meeting.

CAO Alton Hobbs explained that the municipality put out a call for interested families to sign up for the project. At last check, there had been three enquiries from interested parties.

In the Northeast Town, there isn’t a specific bylaw for chickens, but the raising of chickens is considered agricultural use, which is not permitted in a residential zone.

Billings does have a bylaw regarding domestic fowl, but specifics of that bylaw were not supplied to this newspaper by press time Monday. Requests to the other Island municipalities regarding their bylaws for laying hens were also not answered by press time.