Pitt Meadows bans backyard hens

Maple Ridge watched pilot project and decides this fall on chicken coops

Only two participants registered flocks with city’s urban hen program

Only two participants registered flocks with city’s urban hen program

Pitt Meadows may be a big player in B.C. agriculture, but council is not playing along with the urban farming movement.

Chicken coops in Pitt Meadows will be restricted to agricultural properties after council voted not to allow urban backyard hens.

“Based on the low number of participants in the program, and the numerous complaints received regarding backyard hens, staff recommends discontinuing the program,” council was told in a report.

Only two participants registered their flocks for the one-year pilot project, and city staff was aware of two others who kept urban hens during the trial, but did not register with the city. The pilot began in September 2014.

The city bylaws department received 13 complaints from the neighbours of these flocks, regarding bad smells, pests, noise, and rats being attracted to the chicken feed.

“I won’t say I told you so,” remarked Coun. Janis Elkerton, but said she didn’t support the idea from the outset.

Council had anticipated problems with rodents.

Pitt Meadows’ experience is different than other Lower Mainland cities. In 2013, Vancouver had 165 registered backyard chicken coops. Its backyard chicken bylaw came into effect in 2010, and in the first four years there were only 15 complaints.

Vancouver has been joined by Victoria, Surrey, Nanaimo and Kelowna as B.C. cities allowing backyard chickens.

Most major cities across Canada don’t allow them, including Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg and Regina. Montreal allows backyard hens, and Edmonton is running a pilot project.

“We did the right thing with the pilot program. We gave it a try,” said Coun. Bruce Bell.

Maple Ridge council was asked last month to consider backyard hens, but decided to await the results of the Pitt Meadows pilot project. The Maple Ridge agricultural advisory committee will make a recommendation to council, based on what happened in Pitt Meadows.

The owners of the urban flocks in Pitt Meadows will be told to remove their flocks and chicken coops from their properties.