Residential chickens on Halifax regional council agenda — again

Residential chickens on Halifax regional council agenda — again

Egg-laying hens and chickens are on the Halifax Regional Municipality council agenda Tuesday.

Coun. David Hendsbee, who represents Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore, wants council to consider a staff report on the keeping and raising of egg-laying hens and chickens in all residential zones for the purpose of personal household food supply.

"I've had a number of calls in the last year from residents in my particular area and rural parts of Halifax trying to raise their own egg-laying chickens being told by a bylaw officer they have to get rid of them," Hendsbee said.

While the municipality stopped interpreting its bylaws in a way that automatically banned urban chickens in 2013, the rules are still murky.

Some zones yes, some zones no

In 2016, a municipal spokesperson told CBC News there was no specific bylaw or one zone within the municipality that deals with the issue of keeping chickens on private property.

"There are some zones now that allow it but some zones that may not … parts of Lawrencetown, Mineville and Lake Echo … they're not allowed, but they've got large lots, sizeable lots and it wouldn't be too hard to put in a small fenced in coop there," said Hendsbee.

Hendsbee said the staff report would only look into egg-laying hens and chickens, but not roosters.

Knowing where food comes from

Dawn Crane, a Lawrencetown resident, wants to have egg-laying chickens on her property but she said current zoning wouldn't allow it.

However, she said a neighbour's home behind her property is zoned for chickens.

"It's just really strange how different properties throughout the entire municipality, some are zoned that they're able to and some are zoned not," said Crane, who has started a petition on the issue.

Crane said she supports Hendsbee's motion for a staff report looking into allowing egg-laying hens and chickens throughout the municipality.

"We love to grow veggies in our yard and we'd also just like to have a couple of chickens that lay eggs so we could have our own fresh eggs and that way we know what we're putting in our bodies," said Crane.

"That's what people used to do back in the day. They lived basically off the land and that is something we would like to do."

Rezoning application 'a lot of bacon' for eggs

Hendsbee estimated Crane would have to pay about $2,500 to go through a rezoning application.

"That's a lot of bacon you got to lay out for eggs," said Hendsbee. "And so I said you probably should take more of a holistic approach and maybe I and the municipality should be looking at a broader approach in trying to change regulations for all residential zones across HRM to allow it."

In Hendsbee's request for consideration motion to council, he added links to guidelines on how chickens could be kept.

"Basically if you have a four square foot area per chicken, you should be more than sufficient for raising chickens," said Hendsbee, adding a manure management plan would also be needed.