Nipawin council says no to backyard chickens

Quang Nguyen Vinh/

Nicole Goldsworthy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

Nipawin council has closed the door to allowing chickens in backyards.

The decision was made at the Aug. 14 council meeting.

Jani Burgess, a local resident, requested the town consider amending the animal control bylaw that would permit residents to keep chickens.

A report prepared in response to the request by land planner Jeff Hrynkiw, community services manager Derek Seckinger, and protective services manager Paul Cockell recommended that the animal control bylaw not be changed to allow chickens.

The report looked at access to fresh eggs, using the care of chickens as a stress reliever or hobby, using chickens to provide garden manure, and the risk of smells and diseases if the chickens aren’t cared for properly. It also added that there would be a cost to amend and enforce new rules for chicken keeping.

“Overall, administration recommends that chickens not be allowed in the corporate boundaries of Nipawin as it easy to get farm eggs or chickens in our area; the total cost to properly care for hens will likely cost more than simply buying eggs; and the Town already allows other pets to act as a stress reliever,” the report concluded.

At its July 5 meeting, the town’s operations standing committee agreed with the report’s recommendations.

Burgess then asked to present to council at its Aug. 14 meeting. In a letter addressed to council, she wrote that:

chickens as pets have a good return on investment as they produce eggs, eat insects and produce manure, while cats and dogs can also be a nuisance;

chicken eggs would improve nutrition in the community;

there’s been a lot of interest on the community on backyard chickens, as evidenced by comments on local Facebook groups; and

it should be up to taxpayers to decide how they enjoy their property, not council.

“I am forced to conclude that there is a bias in the decision-making that is preventing the policymakers’ helpers to see that the choice is obviously to allow  citizens to make their own choices on how to best utilize their private property and further to guide them in doing so responsibly,” Burgess wrote.

Five other letters were sent in support of allowing chickens. 

“Council based its decision on the information brought forward from administration and the information provided by Ms. Burgess,” said Sheldon Chornawka, the deputy mayor. “At this time council has voted against it with the information we were provided. If the community feels there is a need for chickens, council and administration would look into it.”

In the Northeast, at the time this article was written, the towns of Porcupine Plain, Carrot River, Arborfield, Tisdale, Hudson Bay, Naicam and the cities of Humboldt and Melfort all do not allow chickens within municipal limits.