City forces woman to get rid of backyard chickens

REGINA – The city is forcing a local woman in the north end to get rid of the hens her family has been raising in their backyard for years or face a fine of up to $2,000.

“I’m feeling very sad. I’ve shed more tears over chickens than I ever thought I would in my life,” said Shandra Massier.

Chickens are considered to be livestock under the Regina Animal Bylaw.

“No person shall keep livestock in any area of the City unless the livestock are kept as part of a public agricultural exhibition or exposition operation or agricultural fair,” the bylaw reads.

Massier and her family raised four chickens in a heated chicken coop over about three years. They were given two weeks’ notice by the city to evict their feathery tenants.

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“First and foremost, there is a significant disease hazard to do with them. Everybody’s heard of avian influenza, that is only one of many things that can be carried, but also the noise, the smell, the whole impact on the neighbourhood,” said Ernie Polsom, Regina Fire & Protective Services director.

Despite the potential for a fine, “We much prefer a less intrusive way of enforcement,” said Polsom.

Massier bought the $20 hens for their eggs, and an educational tool for her children.

“They get to learn that it takes a full 24 hours for a chicken to make an egg, and to respect your food, and that food doesn’t just come from a grocery store,” she said.

Global News originally aired a story on Massier’s then-secret tenants in 2012; her identity wasn’t revealed. She has decided to come out of the coop, so to speak, to draw attention to the bylaw.

“They’re just great little accents to our family,” she said of the chickens.

The city told the family that the chickens needed to go after an anonymous neighbour complained, though not all seem to mind.

“They’ve taught the girls and our grandchildren so many things about animals,” said Candace Selinger, who lives next door to Massier. “Never loud, never dirty. Perfect neighbour chickens.”

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Massier moved the chickens to a friend’s farm outside of the city limits on Tuesday. She plans on petitioning the city to get the bylaw changed and hopes to be able return the chickens to her backyard in the future.

“They’re like any other animal. If you clean up after them, if you care for them, they’re going to be wonderful pets,” said Massier.

Cities, including Vancouver, Montreal, and Victoria, allow backyard chickens.

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