July 30, 2019 2:55 pm
Updated: July 30, 2019 5:06 pm

Halifax council moves closer to permit raising of backyard chickens

WATCH: An inconsistency in rules outlined in Halifax’s Centre Plan which allow chickens in the urban core and an invasive species of plants in a Dartmouth lake were at the core of debate in council. Alicia Draus reports.

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Halifax is a step closer to allowing residents to raise chickens, an issue that was discussed at Halifax Regional Council on Tuesday.

A motion was brought forward to initiate a process to consider amendments to the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-laws as necessary to permit the keeping and raising of chickens.

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As it stands, rules are inconsistent around HRM. In Downtown Dartmouth, Dartmouth, and Sackville Drive, Land-use bylaws prohibit keeping chickens. However, in Bedford, the Halifax Peninsula, Halifax mainland and everywhere else chickens for agricultural uses are permitted. 

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But some changes are already in the books. The Centre plan permits “keeping of chickens as an accessory of use: for some areas with a limit of 10 hens per lot and regulations on where and how they’re kept.”

As debate began on the issue, Councillor Sam Austin raised the question if the consideration applied only to chickens or if other fowl such as quail and ducks were being considered, prompting Councillor Shawn Clearly to put forward an amendment to have ‘chickens’ replaced with fowl.

The amendment raised a number of objections from councillors, including Lorelei Nicoll who said that it would be better to start small then move forward.

READ MORE: Backyard chickens now allowed in parts of Toronto as part of 3-year pilot project

“I would like to have it regulated and then see how we go from there,” she said. Councillor David Hendsbee also questioned the amendment, asking where the line will get drawn.

“Will that include ostrich and emu?” he asked.

After some debate the amendment was approved with an eight to seven vote.

As councillors moved to debate the amended motion, Councillor Russell Walker said he would be voting against this as his district already deals with a massive rodent problem.

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Councillor Tim Outhit noted that he has some concerns about the municipality taking a “one size fits all” approach, and that he would like to see more concrete regulations come out of the staff report.

Councillor David Hendbsee agreed there needs to be more concrete regulations and would like to see rules based on lot sizes. He also supported the idea of having permits required for chicken owners.

Ultimately the motion to have staff move forward with the process was voted 14-1 with Walker as the lone ‘no’ vote.

As part of the next step, staff will be creating an online questionnaire for public engagement on the issue, something they expect to have online this fall. 

 

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