Maple Ridge residents seem to be having an open mind about keeping backyard chickens, according to an update to council.
So Maple Ridge is asking for a report outlining the bylaw options for allowing them in some backyards within the city.
Over the past summer, the backyard chicken subcommittee, part of the city’s agricultural advisory committee, tried to get an idea of the public’s opinion on the issue by raising the topic at local events.
The group asked people what size of lot should have backyard chickens, and how many there should be and what they thought would be the overall pros and cons.
The consultation process included setting up a booth at Country Fest in July and another at the Haney Farmer’s Market once in August, when city staff and committee members answered questions while information boards explained the issue.
The city also circulated a Back Yard Hen Survey and received 840 completed forms, “making this survey one of the most engaged surveys in recent city history,” according to a Dec. 11 staff report.
Views were also sought on the city’s Facebook page, while more than 280 e-mails on the issue were received.
After looking at the results, staff found that “most participants responded positively to the possibility” of keeping chickens in residential areas. About a third of those who responded said they’d already had backyard chickens in the past, while the remaining two-thirds said they’d consider having them in the future.
The survey also found that most who responded, 36 per cent, favoured having only three or four backyard chickens or hens, while 45 per cent were worried that the chicken feed would attract rodents and pests.
People were also worried that the chickens wouldn’t be cared for properly and favoured an education component to the program.
However, “the majority of comments were positive and in support of keeping backyard hens,” the report said.
Many added that roosters shouldn’t be part of the program.
With the feedback “generally positive,” there seems to be a “recognized interest” in possibly creating a system that would allow backyard chickens or hens so people could produce their own eggs, said a Dec. 11 staff report to Maple Ridge city council.
Council agreed at its workshop meeting that day and supported staff writing an options report.
Maple Ridge asked its agricultural advisory committee to come up with a plan to allow chickens in 2017.
Pitt Meadows decided in 2015 not to allow backyard chickens.