City is hatching plan about backyard birds.

City is hatching plan about backyard birds.

Maple Ridge clucking about backyard chickens

Ag committee working on plan

Maple Ridge is asking its agricultural advisory committee to come up with a plan to allow chickens in some backyards, council decided last week.

But details of the strategy as to how the birds can live in backyards, on what particular properties, won’t be known until the plan is hatched later this year.

While Pitt Meadows decided in 2015 not to allow backyard chickens, Maple Ridge is trying to find a way to allow the birds to be kept while not bothering neighbours.

Maple Ridge has been pecking away at the issue for years, beginning in 2013, when there was a request to allow half a dozen chickens in some neighbourhoods. The agricultural advisory committee then took over the topic but the issue was delayed for half a year.

The new city council elected in November 2014 then launched a review of all of the city’s advisory committees, creating more delay. The chicken lobbyists then renewed their efforts with another presentation in April 2015.

However, council in June 2015, decided to review the goals of Maple Ridge’s agricultural plan. That survey and report took until November 2015, but showed there was no agreement among council about the agricultural plan. Further discussion on that didn’t happen until the July 2016.

Meanwhile, the agricultural advisory committee recommended in October 2015 that backyard chickens be allowed.

The whole issue was shelved until this April when the 4H Otter and Llama Club made another pitch to council.

Seven cities in the Lower Mainland area currently allow chickens, with some conditions required, such as limiting the number of chicken to between six and eight for each yard on a lot size of at least 557 sq. m or 6,000 sq. ft. Roosters aren’t allowed, nor is slaughtering of the birds, nor is the selling of eggs.

The report also notes that Pitt Meadows cancelled its program after complaints about noise and odour, while rats and other pests, attracted by the chicken feed, is also a concern. Those issues could all require more staff time, the report notes.

On the upside, backyard chickens can increase food security and lower food costs.

Once the agricultural advisory committee creates its plan, it will go to the community for comment.

The Otter 4-H Llama and Poultry Club is hosting a backyard chicken information session at Country Fest at Albion Fairgrounds, this July 29 and 30.