Tecumseh hen program flew the coop, after enforcement becomes an issue

·2 min read
Tecumseh town council has scrapped an urban chicken pilot program, after enforcement issues became too much for bylaw officers to handle.  (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
Tecumseh town council has scrapped an urban chicken pilot program, after enforcement issues became too much for bylaw officers to handle. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

A few people in Tecumseh who have licenses to keep chickens in their yards will have to see that those birds fly the coop.

After a two-year pilot project, the town has seen enough and no longer wants hens in urban areas.

Curtis Tourangeau was one of the first to sign up for the program. He has four chickens that he has to give up by next spring.

"We've never had any issues. I have a pretty good relationship with our neighbours and everything," he said.

"I mean, the kids are attached. It's going to be a challenge to go to the kids and say, 'Hey, listen. Now, we've got to get rid of them."

I don't think that they did a good job of giving it a fair shake, - Jason Petruniak, former coop owner in Tecumseh

But Coun. Andrew Dowie, who pushed for the program, said Tourangeau and owners like him are not the problem.

"The challenge we ran into was on the enforcement side," Dowie said on CBC's Windsor Morning.

"That was the dominating factor. If that part of it wasn't there — the resourcing or enforcement that was required to operate this pilot program — than I don't think we'd be making the same decision."

Dowie said complaints were coming in from neighbours of those that keep chickens. For example, the hens going onto the properties and uncontained food that attracted rodents, foxes or even coyotes.

"We tried. We definitely wanted to be a progressive community, to give people the liberty to do something good for their situation," said Dowie.

"Unfortunately, when things go wrong, things go very wrong, and it has impacts on neighbours that will take a long, long time to recover from. Is this the reason to invest in expanding our bylaw enforcement, for only a handful of cases, or is the program the issue?"

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

The costs of enforcing rules around the program for the existing eight licenses, did not make sense, said Dowie.

Another resident, Jason Petruniak, had his birds for about eight months, but was told he had to get rid of them earlier this year. He too said his kids had grown attached to them, and were upset to see them go.

"It went really well, actually. We enjoyed it a lot. The issue was the neighbours," he said, acknowledging that chickens can be noisy and rodents are an issue.

But he's critical of how the town set up the program.

"I don't think that they did a good job of giving it a fair shake. I think all of the complaints that were relayed to us were predictable, and so if you were going to get rid of the program based on that, I think they should have never started it in the first place."

"In a perfect world none of these circumstance would have existed because the rules were pretty clear," said Dowie.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting