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Council divided on allowing chickens in City backyards

Council divided on allowing chickens in City backyards
Prince Albert city council was unable to come to an agreement on whether chickens should be allowed in Prince Albert. Photo courtesy Quang Nguyen Vinh/Pexels.com

The opinions of City Council were split during Monday’s Executive Committee meeting after a local resident brought forward a suggestion to allow chickens in Prince Albert backyards.

According to Lance McDougald, raising chickens is beneficial not only to the pocketbook, but also to the ecosystem.

Keeping chickens reduces the need to spray pesticides while also providing homegrown eggs to combat inflating food costs, he said.

McDougald noted a number of Canadian cities that allow chickens in backyards, such as St. Albert, Alberta, who’s City Council passed a bylaw in 2019 allowing for hen keeping in the community following a two year long pilot project.

Allowing backyard chickens is an issue that has been raised to Council twice in the last eight years, once in 2017 and again in 2020. City Planner Craig Guidinger explained that a report was created in 2017 that presented the pros and cons to allowing chickens and amending the City’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.

“With allowing four chickens or other types of animals, there are some considerations – the attraction of rodents, if not done properly it can equate to smells and disruptions in the neighborhood,” said Guidinger.

Currently, chickens are allowed within City limits but they’re required to be located on an acreage, said Mayor Greg Dionne.

“I believe there’s a place for chickens, but I believe that’s an acreage and I don’t believe it should be in our city,” said Dionne.

Coun. Blake Edwards said he’s not totally against allowing chickens in the future, but he doesn’t see the City being ready for right now.

“Our bylaw is extremely busy; our bylaw officers are all over the place,” said Edwards. “I think this will bring on a whole new set of concerns for the City.”

After a number of defeated motions and tied votes, City Council ultimately decided to move on from the discussion as they were unable to come to an agreement on whether to receive and file the information or pass it along to Administration for review and report.