Regina council votes against backyard hen pilot project

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Regina council votes against backyard hen pilot project
Regina Ward 8 Coun. Shanon Zachidniak argued that a backyard hen pilot project had a lot of community support, but Regina City Council voted 5-4 against her motion Wednesday. – Feb 1, 2024

City councilors voted Wednesday against a motion proposing a pilot project that would have seen residents own hens in their backyards.

Ward 8 Coun. Shanon Zachidniak, who had presented the motion to council, was unhappy about the loss but believes the effort to permit backyard chickens will continue.

“This is not the first time the motion has been before council, and I believe it will be brought forward again.”

In her motion to council, she had argued that food security, which includes more opportunities for urban agriculture, is one of the six priorities of community safety and wellbeing plan.

According to the motion before council, about 40 Canadian municipalities, including Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Victoria, have a successful backyard hen or “BYH” bylaw.

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A recent petition supporting the BYH bylaw has over 650 signatures, the motion also stated.

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“A BYH bylaw would regulate the condition of care of backyard hens and ensure proper health and safety measures of both hens and citizens keeping hens,” the motion stated.

Thirteen delegations spoke to council in favour of the pilot project. City administration received 54 communications: 46 were in support, while seven were against, and one was neither in favour nor against.

“I received 134 emails related to chickens: 132 were in support, meaning two wrote in opposition. These mails came from every single ward of this city, with the most coming from Ward 1, with 28 letters in support,” Zachidniak said.

The motion had proposed a two-year pilot project to begin in the summer.

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said she believes council would want to focus on more pressing matters this year.

“I think folks are focusing on the core business and how we get our priorities straight. I am open to it in the future but right now and throughout this year, we have big things we need to move, some big policy,” Masters said.

Zachidniak had proposed an amendment that city council would direct administration to prepare a report on or before Oct. 9, 2024, that would outline the parameters and implications of the project.

Masters said the city administration needed to focus on the volume of work it already has before it.

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The motion failed with five councillors voting against and four councillors voting in favor.

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