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No crush at the gate for hen registration

By Mike Youds
August 15, 2016 10:49 A.M.

Here come the hens, or at least an indication of hens already here and not registered.

The City is set to begin its online registration of urban hens later this week, one of the initial steps in implementing new rules that allow residents to rear the birds on typical residential properties.

Registering each hen is mandatory.

Will the website crash from the sudden stampede of eager hen registrants? Will the soft cackles of backyard chickens be heard far and wide across the city? 

After all, this oeuvre has been gestating a long time, almost a decade.

City staff expect to see neither a rush nor significant numbers, though.

“I think we’ll see a bit of an increase and then it will taper off,” said Jen Casorso, social and community development supervisor.

An estimated 50-60 residents were raising hens long before it was permitted through animal control bylaw amendments in June. They’ve been flying under the radar for years in some cases. In the experience of other municipalities — Kamloops has been slow in joining in the pro-hen club — there is an initial surge of the long converted.

“We’re aware of a number of families already having hens. I’m anticipating we’ll see an influx of registrations to legitimize those that are doing it.”

She said the City has received a lot of calls from the public about keeping hens under the new rules. They’ve been slightly delayed with the website, which was originally supposed to be in place by Aug. 2. Plans for a public workshop in Novmber. are taking shape for the purposes of better educating the public.

“The whole intent beyond the bylaw is to ensure that people are doing it humanely and mitigating any nuisance to the neighbours,” Casorso noted.

The website should be a useful resource, with links to resources already posted by other jurisdictions, she said.

Since June 21, residents are permitted to keep up to five hens on single-family and two-family residential lots greater than 370 square metres.

Here are the basic rules:

  • Urban hens are for the enjoyment of the person or family living on the premises;
  • Sale of eggs, meat, or manure is not permitted.
  • Hen coops must meet the minimum setback requirements in the City’s animal control bylaw and be maintained in good condition.
  • Hens are to be kept in a building and enclosure that is to be located in the rear yard of the property, at least 3 metres from a dwelling unit, and 1m from rear and side yard property lines.
  • Each hen is to be provided with 0.5 square metres of indoor coop space and 1.0 square metre of roofed outdoor enclosure. The coop must be fully enclosed. The maximum area of the coop and enclosure should be less than 10 square metres.
  • Hens are not allowed to run at large.


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