CITY of North Vancouver residents will soon have their say on whether they want to share their neighbourhoods with chickens.
Council gave first reading to two bylaws Monday night that would allow backyard chickens on properties with single-family homes. Council will gauge the community’s opinion on matter at a public hearing to be held this fall.
If approved, residents will be allowed to keep up to eight hens in backyard coops. Selling their eggs or slaughtering them would be prohibited, and roosters would remain personae non grata.
The changes come at the request of the North Vancouver chapter of Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub, or CLUCK, which made a presentation to council in April.
Outside the meeting, a half-dozen CLUCK members celebrated the small victory.
“We’re happy about it. We’ve been working at it for over a year, so it’s nice to have a response,” said Stephanie Imhoff, CLUCK member. “Our group just thinks it’s a great addition to the urban landscape.”
After hearing from the group’s delegation in April, council requested a staff report with more detailed information on how the city would regulate hens and address issues around health risks and bylaw enforcement.
“I still have some concerns, but I believe this is the kind of thing that should have the benefit of input from the public,” Coun. Don Bell said at Monday’s meeting.
While there is a worry that the chickens, their feed and their coops could draw predators and scavengers, city chickens would be largely shielded from that, Mayor Darrell Mussatto said.
“One advantage we have on the North Shore is we are surrounded by the district. Most bears, to get at these hens, would have to go through the district,” he said.
According to staff’s report, only about 60 Vancouver residents signed up to keep coops when that municipality allowed hens in 2010. Vancouver expects roughly the same number to raise chickens without properly registering.
Only about 20 per cent of residents in the City of North Vancouver live on single-family lots, meaning staff expect very few to take part in chicken rearing.
Unlike Vancouver, backyard farmers here would not have to register their broods or get permits. City staff recommended a less stringent regulatory approach to reduce the burden on city resources.
As for health risks, staff consulted a Vancouver Coastal Health report commissioned by Vancouver council, which found adding chickens to big cities brought little threat with it.
"Overall, the risk of pathogen transmission given backyard chicken keeping appears to be low and does not present a greater threat to the public's health compared with keeping of other animals . . . such as dogs and cats," the report stated.
CLUCK has also been lobbying the District of North Vancouver to adopt chicken-friendly bylaws, but district council only seems to be willing to consider the changes as part of a larger OCP review, Imhoff said.