Village of Morrin having fowl problem with ‘chicken’ resident

The Village of Morrin heard complaints from a resident regarding urban chickens residing next door in a municipality that apparently prohibits raising fowl in municipal limits. The discussion about the ubiquitous urban chickens was held at the Aug. 16 regular meeting of council.

Councillors heard a presentation by village resident Jeremy Raisbeck who stated chickens are being kept and raised in a residence next door to him, and the situation has become annoying and disgusting.

Raisbeck stated the chickens make noise which occurs most frequently in the morning and evening and the smell of the farm animals is quite noticeable and disturbing.

In fact Raisbeck stated people walking by his house often ask him if he is the cause of the horrid miasma. “So I’m getting tired of that,’ said Raisbeck to council.

Raisbeck stated his neighbour who is raising and caring for the chickens appears to be stirring up the bird’s liquid manure and pouring it around the neighbour’s yard, which is adding to the bad odour. Additionally, it appears hay bales and wood chips have been placed around the neighbour’s yard which Raisbeck suspects is causing a boom in the local rodent population.

Raisbeck estimated he’s catching 15 to 20 mice per day on his own property, inside and outside combined.

Mayor Chris Hall stated the village’s bylaw officer should be sent over there without delay.

Coun. M'Liss Edwards immediately responded that the Village of Morrin can’t do anything about this urban chicken problem. Edwards stated the Village of Morrin doesn’t have any bylaw that contains penalties for possessing chickens in town.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner stated the community peace officer (CPO) went over to the residence where the chickens reside and reported that his meeting with the chicken owner didn't go very well, describing the chicken-manager as “very arrogant.”

Plachner stated a letter was sent to the chicken owner but the chicken owner denied ever receiving any letter from the village regarding the barnyard animals and Plachner added the chicken owner denied even possessing such fowl.

During discussion councillors examined the village’s animal control bylaw which read similarly to such bylaws in other municipalities: forbidding the possession of farm animals in the village based on factors of whether council feels the animals are causing a problem or nuisance in the village. However, as Coun. Edwards noted, no penalties were listed.

The CAO stated farm animals such as chickens don’t belong in the village. “Go buy an acreage,” referring to people who wish to own farm animals.

Coun. Edwards stated she felt it was mostly the manure that was causing a problem, not so much the noise.

Mayor Hall agreed with the CAO, saying that if other municipalities like the City of Red Deer allow urban chickens, then those wishing to own chickens should move to Red Deer.

Coun. Lorraine MacArthur stated she suspected both pouring liquid chicken manure around a yard and the large number of mice were unhealthy. MacArthur also suggested sending the chicken owner a registered letter telling him to get rid of the chickens.

The CAO noted she will begin drafting a bylaw that includes fines for violating the animal control bylaw and that she will contact councillors for a special council meeting specifically to pass the draft bylaw.

Plachner added it appears the chicken owner has had the farm animals at his residence for over a year and that the chicken owner did contact the village office to find out if urban chickens were permitted in Morrin, to which Plachner told him no, urban chickens were prohibited. “He went and got them anyway,” said Plachner.

Councillors passed a resolution to contact the health inspector regarding the pouring of liquid chicken manure in a Village of Morrin residential yard.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review