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Picture Butte council provides feedback on urban hens

Posted on April 27, 2021 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Picture Butte town council shared thoughts on how to regulate chickens in town at a recent council meeting.

During their regular April 12 meeting, Picture Butte town council was presented with a draft version of a potential urban hen bylaw for feedback. Bylaw 912-21 is based on the Town of Coalhurst’s bylaw, and would allow for the keeping of backyard hens in Picture Butte.

This version of the bylaw was not being presented for first reading, and was in front of council for feedback only.

The general premise for the bylaw is any number of Urban Hen licences can be given, as long as the applicant meets the criteria, as outlined in the bylaw. Applicants would need to pay a non-refundable application fee, and pay a one-time Urban Hen licence fee, which could transfer to another property if the property owner moves within Picture Butte. Adjacent landowners would have a say in whether an applicant could have chickens or not, and the penalties outlined in Schedule A of the bylaw are the same as the Coalhurst bylaw.

CAO Keith Davis said while administration does not recommend a control period for the bylaw, noting there are already people in town keeping hens, it was something council could provide feedback on. Coun. Henry de Kok noted even if they don’t do a trial period, they could rescind the bylaw at a later date if needed.

For one section of the draft bylaw, Davis said unlike the Coalhurst bylaw, they do not have a maximum number of licences that could be issued. Mayor Cathy Moore said she would like to have a maximum number of licences within the town. De Kok voiced his support for that, and Papworth noted in other urban hen bylaws, they’ve limited it to per capita, although it would be hard to enforce and it should be limited.

The bylaw also states applicants would pay a onetime Urban Hen Licence fee. Moore said they should be paying an annual fee like you would a dog licence, and if they don’t, a bylaw officer should be going out to check on the chickens’ well-fare.

Davis asked if council wanted to restrict the keep of urban hens to residential districts with the exception of multi-unit residential, with maybe Urban Reserve lands as well, which council agreed.

Other council feedback was that applicants would not be required to take a course of safe handling of hens prior to being issued a licence, and if 50 per cent of your adjacent neighbour says no to you keeping hens, the licence would be denied.

For setbacks, the applicant would need to meet the requirements for accessory buildings and structures, outlined in the town’s land use bylaw.

Section 5.2 states that you can’t sell your hens’eggs, manure, meat, or other products derived from a hen, with Davis noting while the Purchase and Sale of Eggs and Processed Egg Regulation allows individuals to sell eggs directly to a consumer, selling uninspected meat is illegal in Alberta and if they allowed this, they would have to consider it a home business. De Kok noted the regulations around slaughtering on-site have changed, and Watson and Moore agreed it shouldn’t be allowed in town.

According to the government’s website, while the On-Farm Slaughter Operation Licence (OFSO) allows an individual to conduct on-farm slaughter and processing activities on their property, all meat resulting from slaughter under an On-Farm Slaughter Operation (OFSO) licence is uninspected and cannot be sold, traded, gifted or bartered.

When asked about slaughtering hens on the property, council agreed it shouldn’t be allowed in town.

The draft sets the application fee at $100 and the licence fee at $100, the latter of which Davis said was based on a one-time fee, so they would have to come up with a different number. Moore suggested setting the annual licence fee at $30, similar to the dog licence, which council agreed to.

Council passed a motion to bring the matter back to their next council meeting.

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