Proposed bylaw poised to limit number of chickens on South River properties to six

The Village of South River town council is expected to pass a poultry bylaw at its Nov. 14 regular meeting following complaints of property owners having hens and turkeys in the urban part of the community.

Up until now the village had no bylaw overseeing poultry.

But a letter to council from Tim Hainsworth and Martha Jacobs dated Aug. 18 asked council to consider creating a poultry bylaw.

Jacobs and Hainsworth operate a food service business downtown and also live in the same building from which they operate the business.

The couple says during the summer there was a stench of chicken excrement emanating from nearby land where chickens are kept and that also attracted numerous houseflies.

Because of the close proximity between the business and poultry, Jacobs and Hainsworth say their business and home have been inundated with flies.

“We can not have a colossal amount of flies coming and going into our business and our home,” the couple says in their letter.

The couple says a growing concern is the excrement will attract rats and other creatures to the area.

The business couple adds they are not against people having chickens.

What they oppose is people having chickens who don't look after them in a proper way and then create problems for others because of their neglect.

In response, council created a draft bylaw which limited the number of hens on any one property to six.

During the debate that created the draft bylaw, the discussion also addressed having a one-time licence fee ranging from a low of $10 to a high of $50 which would cover the administration and inspection costs.

During a public meeting in early October to discuss the proposed bylaw, homeowners with chickens asked council if it would increase the number of chickens that could be kept on a property.

Suggestions ranged from being able to keep seven to 12 chickens.

In response, Coun. Teri Brandt said she believed the higher number of chickens were too many and that council should stick to its original maximum of six hens.

Hainsworth and Jacobs were also at the public meeting and told the other homeowners that they were not trying to shut down the keeping of poultry.

Rather they wanted the practice reined in a bit.

Council also heard from one family of six who kept chickens to help lower their food bill by providing eggs for the family.

At its most recent regular meeting, council voted to keep the number of chickens at six and that a one-time licence is also required.

It also laid out several rules the chicken owners need to observe including not selling their chicken eggs to the public and when they apply for a license, the application needs to show the location of the hen coop and the hen run area in addition to other buildings and structures on the property.

The proposed bylaw also prevents the licence from transferring to a new owner of the property if it's sold.

In this instance the licence obtained by the previous owner becomes null and void.

If council approves the proposed bylaw at its next meeting, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget