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District of Mission to develop pilot project on backyard hens

Participants would include current chicken owners and/or up to 10 households
Frank Muermann feeding chickens in his backyard. The Muermanns complained about zoning bylaws restricting hens on residential properties, when other Lower Mainland municipalities allow a limited number of hens. Patrick Penner photo.

Backyard chickens are another step closer to becoming a reality in Mission.

During a January council meeting, district staff were instructed to develop a pilot project for the keeping of urban hens. A report on the pilot project and its parametres will be presented to council in the near future.

Participants in the project would include current chicken owners and/or up to 10 households.

Criteria, including lots sizes, fencing and other issues are still to be determined.

Backyard chickens raise many concerns for staff, including the fact that they are wildlife (bears, rats etc.) attractants, noise factors and other possible concerns and complaints.

During discussions at the council table, it was originally suggested by Coun. Ken Herar that the district grant a temporary use permit to six or a dozen residents in the community and “monitor the behaviour of any potential threats to the animals or rodent issues” for several months, which will then be reported back to council.

“When we have these results then l feel we will be educated in how we should move forward in a safe and responsible manner,” said Herar.

However, Coun. Mark Davies suggested a pilot project instead, noting that indicates it is something the district is “trying and may not continue.”

The rest of council agreed and Herar asked that the candidates chosen to take part in the project should be spread out in the community, rather than in one central area.

Another concern is what happens to the chickens if a homeowner cannot tend to them properly. It would fall on district bylaw officers to monitor and deal with those incidents.

Coun. Cal Crawford asked how many people in Mission are even interested in backyard chickens?

“Do we have 10 families or 1,000?”

The Fraser Valley Regional District’s animal control centre does not have the capacity to deal with backyard chickens, if the district is forced to step in. Would that require a facility to be built to house them at taxpayers expense? he asked.

Staff will attempt to address this questions in its upcoming report.

RELATED: Mission couple cry fowl over District bylaw cracking down on backyard chickens

Kevin Mills

About the Author: Kevin Mills

I have been a member of the media for the past 34 years and became editor of the Mission Record in February of 2015.
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