August 15, 2020 @ 5:15pm
On September 9, the County of Stettler will hold a public hearing on the amendment of an existing bylaw to allow residents to keep chickens. The bylaw itself is number 1640-20, which the County Council gave a first reading on August 12. This isn’t the first time that the county has been approached in the last few years by residents asking to be allowed to keep chickens privately.
Jacinta Donovan, the Director of Planning Services, says that the council sent surveys out to landowners in January 2020 and collected them through March, but only 14% were returned. 58% of those returned surveys were in favor of allowing “urban chickens,” which are chickens kept on a small scale, outside of agricultural operations and districts.
Botha and Gadsby were not surveyed because they had their own land use bylaws. However, Gadsby peace officers have had to respond to complaints about urban chickens in their hamlet according to County CAO Yvette Cassidy, so that is something the council needs to consider if they allow for urban chickens throughout the county.
If the bylaw amendment passes, urban chickens would be allowed in the Country Residence District, the Country Residence – Small Lot District and the Hamlet Residential District. Residents wanting to keep chickens would need to apply for a permit and would need to reside on the same site where the chickens are kept, following specific rules to keep the chickens healthy and safe.
For example, in 2015 the council considered a list of requirements that residents with urban chickens would need to follow. Included on that list was providing each hen with a minimum of 0.37 square meters of interior floor area and a minimum of 0.92 square meters of outdoor enclosure within the coop, which must be fully enclosed and weatherproof. Owners would also need to provide and maintain, in the coop, at least one nest box per coop and one perch per hen that is a minimum of 15 centimeters in length. Up to six hens would be allowed per permit, but no roosters.
The county will be accepting written submissions for or against the amendment via Twitter to their account @StettlerCounty. You can also give a verbal submission by teleconferencing into the September 9 meeting. The phone number to call is 1-800-309-2350 and the conference ID is 152-9025. Stettler County Council meetings are also available to be viewed by the public at http://www.youtube.com/StettlerCounty.
Alix Adair, Reporter