City of Trail hatches plan for public input on backyard chickens

Trail Council will be releasing a questionnaire regarding backyard chickens to the general public mid-to-late October.

It’s going to take a whole different animal to determine if the Trail community is for or against the keep of backyard chickens.

Council approved the use of surveymonkey.com to conduct an online questionnaire to ask residents for input on the suggestion to allow backyard hens.

The decision was made at the Governance and Operations Committee meeting Monday in response to a letter Columbia Heights resident Shawna Erback wrote to the city in August, asking how to obtain a permit to have backyard chickens.

“We are responding to a public request,” said Coun. Kevin Jolly, adding, “I just want to be clear that this is a public issue and not another bird issue for council.”

The motion was not passed unanimously as one councillor stated, “I have a problem with allowing this in city limits.

“People have an option,” continued Coun. Rick Georgetti. “If you want to raise chickens, buy a plot of land.”

Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni-Robinson was also opposed to considering backyard poultry in city limits.

“First of all, I want to be clear that nobody is against chickens,” she said. “I think if anyone around this table had somebody buying a home next to you and had chickens, you wouldn’t like it.

“And I think the chickens would appreciate living on a farm instead of cooped up in a residential area.”

At present, the city’s animal control bylaw prohibits the keep of horse, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, fowl or poultry on any parcel of land within the municipality.

To allow for the keep of chickens, an amendment to the bylaw would be required to exclude chickens, and council would have to consider including limitations on the number of hens, coop requirements and standards for humane care.

Developing appropriate standards that could be readily enforced would be problematic, explained Michelle McIsaac, Trail’s corporate administrator, adding, the potential for nuisance to neighbouring properties would be a concern, including odour disturbances and an attractant for rodents and other pests.

A well maintained coop that is properly secured will have no odour or predator issues and unlike a dog or cat, the manure can be used in composting, said Erback.

“Usually when someone has chickens they also have beautiful gardens as they go hand in hand.”

The survey will be accessible via the city’s website or in hard copy format at city hall and the Aquatic and Leisure Centre or the Memorial Centre in mid-to-late October.