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Halton Hills Playing Chicken with Backyard Chickens? Council Seeks Further Discussion

Backyard (or Urban) chickens were once again in front of Halton Hills Town Council on Monday, March 22, after a long COVID hiatus.


Up for discussion were the results from the Town’s public engagement platform and the recommendation: “THAT Report No. ADMIN-2021-0016, dated March 5, 2021 regarding the results from the Town’s Public Engagement platform on Urban Chickens be received: AND FURTHER THAT Council provide staff direction on one of the following options regarding the allowance of urban chickens;


1. staff continue to enforce the existing Responsible Pet Owner’s By-law and prohibit backyard chickens on non-agricultural lots;

Or

2. direct staff to prepare a public consultation process in order to determine appropriate requirements for a limited or ‘pilot’ backyard chicken policy within the Town of Halton Hills.”


According to Report No. ADMIN-2021-0016 “On September 9, 2019, Town Council passed a motion directing town staff to initiate a public process through the Town’s public engagement platform to provide for residents to offer opinion as to whether they support or not support the keeping of backyard chickens within the urban residential areas of the Town of Halton Hills. Public consultation was achieved through an on-line survey that was open to the public from March 9, 2020 through to April 15, 2020. A total of 725 participants completed the survey with ninety-eight percent of the respondents residing within Halton Hills.”


The report from this platform was a fulsome 62 pages and is available in it’s entirety here: https://pub-haltonhills.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=9875.


(Photo: Lindsay Huff)


719 residents responded to the question” Do you think Halton Hills residents should be allowed to keep backyard chickens within the areas noted above?” with 64.7% in favour of allowing urban chickens. 478 people said they felt raising backyard chickens was part of a sustainable lifestyle.

Anonymous supporters said:

  • “Chickens are wonderful, affectionate pets and a very effective way to teach children (and adults) about important concepts surrounding the food web and the inter-relatedness between humans and other species.”

  • “They are entertaining with varied personalities - watching their antics makes us happy. The eggs are delicious and nutritious. They are a good subject for a 4H club for urban children.”

  • “Chickens are noted for eating pesky insects and are more environmentally friendly than pesticides. They also naturally fertilize the lawn.”

  • “Most people will likely not take advantage of this, so the impact will be minimal and the benefits greatly outweigh any impact.”


(Photo: Jace Johnston)


Those opposed selected noise, unsanitary and attracts wildlife and vermin as their main reasons for opposition.


Anonymous opposition said:

  • “Run off water to other yards a big concern. Some yards will be filthy. We live on top of one another. Noise factor.”

  • “I did not move into town to be near farm animals. the feed will attract mice and rats without question. These animals do not belong in residential areas. People who want chickens need to move away from neighborhoods. These rules were but in place for a reason in the first place.”

  • “Eggs have been proven to be unhealthy for starters and the town should not be encouraging people to eat in a way that is going to put a strain on our healthcare system. Beyond that, chickens should not be laying eggs at all as it puts a huge strain on their systems and is unnecessarily cruel to them the way it drains the calcium from their bodies.” (Hayley Green - not anonymous)

  • “Roosters [are]noise[y]. However, roosters are less noisy than neighbours’ cars, trucks, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and barking dogs, not to mention aircraft going to/from Pearson.”


Other questions asked included topics like permits, numbers in flocks, and experience.


In the council meeting, Clark Sommerville moved to put option 2 on the table stating “the one thing that it (the survey) showed is that we need to have more discussion on this before we make a final decision.”


Opposition, like Councillors Lewis and Lawlor, expressed concerns over egg sales and safety (program intended for personal consumption only) as well as vermin and noise as well as the concept of “chickens as neighbours”.


Councillors Brown, Albano and Engels spoke in support of the motion with Mike Albano pointing out that “many of the cons can be addressed through education.”


Susie Spry, Supervisor Municipal Law Enforcement with the Town of Halton Hills attended the meeting and answered questions posed by council about the recommendation. Much of the concern centered on the intent of the recommendation around a “pilot project”. She clarified that her team would be conducting further research through public consultation and studying existing programs. They would then go back to council to recommend either no change to the by-law or with a “framework” of requested changes to the by-law which council would vote on.

It was suggested and adopted that the words ‘limited or ‘pilot’ be removed from the recommendation which carried as follows. “direct staff to prepare a public consultation process in order to determine appropriate requirements for a backyard chicken policy within the Town of Halton Hills.”

(Photo:Hailee Daniels)


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