Anne Simonen presented facts and figures about urban hens to Nelson council on Monday. Photo: City of Nelson video screenshot

Nelson council hears the case for backyard hens

Nelson resident Anne Simonen presented facts and figures to a very receptive council

City council appears to be eager to allow backyard chickens in Nelson, judging from its positive response to a presentation at its March 25 meeting.

Nelson resident Anne Simonen, who presented the case for backyard hens, reminded council that it looked at the idea in 2009 and again in 2011 before dropping it.

“In 2009 Nelson would have been one of the few municipalities in Canada to allow backyard hens. Now there are hundreds of cities, from New Denver to Smithers, Vancouver to Toronto, who allow them,” she said.

Currently Nelson’s Animal Control bylaw allows no animals other than dogs and cats to be kept in the city.

Hen myth and reality

Simonen debunked four common myths about backyard chickens.

They are noisy: Simonen said the sound of a laying hen is about 67 dB for five minutes, and only during the day. The sound of a barking dog is 100 dB any time day or night. Most bylaws do not allow roosters, which tend to be louder.

They attract predators: Simonen said a well-designed coop will prevent predators. She cited an RDCK report stating that fruit trees and garbage attract bears more than chickens. It is their feed that attracts predators, so feed should be stored away from the coop.

They are smelly: Only if you don’t look after their poop properly.

They spread disease: Property line setbacks and hen population limits mitigate this.

A proposed bylaw

Simonen said success depends on a well-drafted bylaw. She suggested that a backyard hen bylaw would contain these provisions:

• A five-meter setback from neighbours’ doors or windows, and one metre from the front property line,

• Maximum four hens, minimum four months old at adoption, no roosters,

• Minimum coop and run space for hens, up to nine square meters and three metres tall,

• Coop closed on all sides with sides buried to prevent burrowing vermin,

• Feed kept secured from rodents outside hen enclosure,

• No slaughtering,

• No sales of eggs or manure or other products,

• Registration fee required.

The backyard hen discussion starts at 1:14:50 in this video:

Food security

Simonen said allowing backyard hens would be in line with the city’s Official Community Plan and its Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy, both of which encourage local food production.

“A hen at her peak lays six eggs over seven days, so four hens for a family of four is well on their way to feeding their family. It is more cost effective than buying organic eggs at the grocery store,” she said.

“Hens are excellent composters: they eat anything, they scratch everything up.”

Councillor Jesse Woodward said Simenon’s proposal resonates with his previous job as markets manager for the West Kootenay EcoSociety, where the emphasis was on local food production.

“Ninety-five per cent of the food we get here is brought in by trucks,” he said, “and we have about three days of food in the stores. So if there was a natural disaster and the roads were impassable we would have nothing.”

He said backyard hens would obviously not solve this problem, but he said it is a step toward an environment of home-produced food.

“I love the idea,” Councillor Brittny Anderson said. “We can always pass it, and then if it becomes henmageddon we can take it back.”

Simonen said that in her research she has not found a municipality that has cancelled a hen ownership bylaw after instituting it.

Her presentation was made to the monthly Committee of the Whole meeting, at which council hears presentations but does not make decisions. Council asked management staff to bring a proposed bylaw back to a regular monthly business meeting and city manager Kevin Cormack said the issue will be included in council’s upcoming strategic priorities sessions in April.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Richard Cannings re-elected in South Okanagan-West Kootenay

It was a close race with Conservative challenger Helena Konanz

Filling the void; Success story for Kootenay-to-Kelowna bus service

Trail-based bus line took over the Kelowna run after Greyhound Canada put a stop to it

Update: Trail Smoke Eaters lose goaltender Buskey to WHL

WHL Raiders deal rights of Smoke Eaters goalie Donovan Buskey to Regina Pats

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s result

LIVE MAP: Results in Canada’s 2019 federal election

Polls are now closed across the country

Scheer says Canada more divided than ever, as NDP and Bloc hold cards close

While Liberals were shut out of two key prairie provinces, they took two-thirds of the seats in Ontario

Investor alert: ‘Split games’ pyramid scheme circulating in B.C.

British Columbia Securities Commission issues warning about scheme selling virtual shares

Federal NDP may support B.C. with major projects, Carole James says

SkyTrain Surrey extension, Massey Tunnel need Ottawa’s help

‘Issue-by-issue parliament’: Expert says Liberals need to placate NDP to be effective

Scandals, social issues, racism defined 2019 federal election, SFU prof says

Misconduct investigations spike by 65% across B.C.’s municipal police forces: report

Reports overall up 15 per cent while complaints made by public down seven per cent

‘Wexit’ talk percolates day after Liberals returned to power with minority

An online petition is calling for a western alliance and Alberta to separate

South Okanagan-West Kootenay candidates talk climate change and environment at recent forum

Forum on Tuesday grilled candidates about plan to bring about low carbon emission economy

Video: Meet your South Okanagan–West Kootenay candidates

Candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

Teck announces roll out of electric buses for Elk Valley operations

Hon. Michelle Mungall says it’s great to see Teck taking action on climate change

Most Read