THE chickens have come home to roost in the City of North Vancouver.
City residents can now keep as many as eight hens for personal use. Roosters remain prohibited and the hens cannot be slaughtered.
Hen-keeping is permitted in single unit residential zones that wrap around the city in a horseshoe shape and house approximately 20 per cent of city residents.
The change in bylaws will likely mean between 20 and 30 chicken coops in the city, according to city staff.
There is no registration or mandatory inspections for residents hoping to enjoy fresh eggs.
"Personally, I would be very excited to start keeping backyard hens," said city resident Jeff Stacy.
Stacy said harvesting eggs would be an ideal activity to share with his son. The notion of letting chickens spread their wings in North Vancouver was spearheaded by the Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub, who made a poultry appeal to change the city bylaws last April.
"I really appreciate that CLUCK brought this forward," said Coun. Craig Keating.
Allowing the hens is part and parcel of the expansion of urban agriculture, according to Keating.
The bylaw revisions passed 5-2, with Couns. Don Bell and Guy Heywood opposed.
"I still have concerns about the potential for predators accessing these pens," Bell said. "There's coyotes, there's raccoons, there's skunks who would be attracted to these."
The coops would be a better fit in a more rural area, according to Bell, who said he was more concerned with possible predators and the nuisance to neighbours than with health risks.
Predators should not be a problem, according to Mayor Darrell Mussatto, who has previously said the city is shielded by its geography.
"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.
Allowing city residents to take in feathered friends before other cities have worked the kinks out of their backyard chicken programs is a mistake, according to Coun. Guy Heywood.
"I'd love to see this come back next year rather than this year," he said.
Watching the way similar cities deal with backyard chickens will allow North Vancouver to avoid other municipality's mistakes, according to Heywood.
"I'm quite willing to let this go ahead," said Coun. Rod Clark.
The new bylaws may need to be rescinded or amended in the future, but for now, the city should bring on the hens, according to Clark.
Backyard chickens are a kinder alternative to the factoryfarmed birds in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, according to Ann Pacey, one of the directors of Village Vancouver, another group to advocate for backyard chickens to be permitted on the North Shore.
Backyard chickens get regular exercise, leading to a higher percentage of omega 3 fatty acids in their eggs, according to Pacey.
"They've got a really bright yellow yolk, and they're significantly healthier because the chickens are moving around and they're eating natural foods," said Pacey, who treats her chickens to feed and occasional plate scrapings.
Allowing the chickens is an easy way to have a more selfreliant community, said Pacey.
"I don't think we really have an appreciation for how fragile our global food network is," she said.