Strathmore Town council voted to pass third reading of Bylaw 22-08, the Urban Hen Bylaw, during the May 18 regular council meeting.
The bylaw was created to introduce urban agriculture to residents in the Town of Strathmore, and outlines the role, requirements and expectations associated with licensing hens in a domestic environment.
Town council originally requested the bylaw to be drafted in October 2021. The original document based many of the proposed policies on similar bylaws adopted by municipalities such as Innisfail, Lacombe, Vancouver, Wood Buffalo and St. Albert.
Bylaw 22-08 was first presented to council during the April 13 committee of the whole meeting. At that time, Council requested amendments to be made.
Returning to council on May 4, administration brought back the urban hen bylaw for discussion. First and second readings were passed with several amendments being brought forward for third reading.
These amendments included asking a license applicant to confirm their having attempted to notify their neighbours of their intent to house poultry, altering the requirements for those who may be present on an appeal committee as deemed appropriate, and for an applicant to provide specific evidence of training or experience with hens from a source approved by administration.
Per an inquiry received by administration, it was clarified within the bylaw that an outdoor chicken coop is defined as an accessory building on a licensed keeper’s property and must abide by site dimensions outlined in the Land Use Bylaw.
At the recommendation of local veterinarians, the Town will be in consultation with other agencies, departments and professionals to determine a good time for the bylaw to activate.
As Councillor Denise Peterson clarified, the bylaw will only come into effect after current concerns regarding avian flu have been addressed and once potential risks have either passed or have been mitigated.
The bylaw is designed to operate over the course of a two-year trial period to gauge local engagement and interest in keeping urban poultry.
Over the duration of the bylaw, administration will gather information to provide feedback to council for review upon the conclusion of the trial period.
A motion was put forward to amend the urban hen bylaw as presented, to include the alterations and to give third and final reading. The motion was carried.
Council did not discuss an exact date for which the bylaw will officially begin to take effect, nor when any licenses may be issued to interested parties.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times