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Update: March 26

Council just finished its latest Council meeting. Following is a quick update. Any opinions or mistakes belong to me and me alone.

To get more information about what we discussed, click here to read my last post.

One delegation we received which was not on the agenda was in support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A local teen who received support was present to hear Mayor Given proclaim March as Make-A-Wish month. I was glad to see this!

Most motions passed as recommended, including support of applying for the Regional Transit Program, a pilot program for Evergreen Park transit service during the Stompede, the downtown business tax bylaws, and three construction contracts.

Councillor O’Toole was appointed to the Alberta Bilingual Municipalities Association. This was a great appointment to make: he's done work on behalf of our francophone community and I know he will represent us well.

The Animals and Responsible Pet Ownership amendments passed third reading, allowing for a urban hen pilot project. The following restrictions would apply to anyone wanting hens:

  • No roosters and a maximum of 4 hens per household
  • Before a permit is issued, adjoining landowners will be contacted and given input
  • Coops have to be in backyards which are completely fenced and secured. Backyards would also need to be spacious enough to ensure appropriate distance from all houses.
  • Hens must remain in their coop or an enclosed run within the fenced yard.
  • Hens need to be banded for identification
  • No euthanasia or slaughtering will be permitted on site
  • Permit holders must complete an accepted urban hen keeping course
  • All hens must be registered with the province

To see my full thinking on this topic, you can read my post about our March 12 meeting by clicking here. The short version: I supported the pilot program due to my beliefs about property rights. The government should never limit what people do on their property unless it creates a safety hazard or significant nuisance. I saw no evidence to convince me that hens would be dangerous nor that keeping them would create as much nuisance as other activities which we allow.

    It was recommended that Council direct administration to only issue 10 permits and report back to the Infrastructure and Protective Services Committee in one year. The motion that got passed had two significant changes which I supported:

    • Up to 15 permits will be issued. This is a pilot program. Throughout pilots, as much data as possible should be collected. There are over 10 people who have taken the Urban Hens course, have large enough yards to accommodate a coop, and have neighbours who are ok with them keeping hens. By allowing more of them to get a pilot permit, we will have more experiences with hens in our community. This will allow Council to make a more informed decision when it revisits this issue.
    • Hen keeping will be re-examined in six months. I supported this change, despite the fact that it means we will be re-visiting hens before they have been kept in all four seasons. The large majority of concerns I heard had to do with impacts on neighbours. Almost all potential impacts will occur over our warmer months. It makes sense to examine the pilot program results in the fall. This will allow Council to eliminate or change the status of urban hens in time for the 2019 backyard season.

    That's what we talked about tonight. As always, I welcome any questions of feedback. That being said, I'd encourage you to check back here prior to our next Council meeting. I always publish a "coming up" post, and feedback is most useful when I receive it prior to making a vote.

    Thanks for reading!