Backyard chicken ban continues in Minto; exemption applications to be considered

Council here has put an end to further discussion on the issue of backyard chicken coops.

In a 4-3 vote at the Sept. 29 meeting, council defeated a motion to proceed with changing the Town of Minto’s exotic animal bylaw to allow a limited number of laying hens in urban residential areas.

Councillor Judy Dirksen questioned presentations at a Sept. 17 pubic meeting on the proposal that suggested hens don’t cause any smell or represent a health hazard.

“I would have to argue that an animal that drops two pounds of poop a week does smell,” said Dirksen. “We also heard chicken manure can carry salmonella … and I would add worms, bacteria and some other viruses.”

Dirksen noted commercial poultry farmers “would not even think of wearing their barn footwear anywhere else – and that’s for the prevention of disease.”

She continued, “The truth is the reason so many countries with hens and chickens everywhere in backyards have trouble with avian influenza is because of those backyard flocks.

“I’m really concerned about enforcement. I’m concerned about pitting neighbour against neighbour. I’m concerned about the health and welfare of the animals and the people who care for them,” said Dirksen.

Councillor Mary Lou Colwell said, “I feel that urban centres are urban centres and rural is rural … I know that I would have a concern if my next door neighbor had a chicken coop in his backyard.”

Mayor George Bridge said raising chickens could provide a good opportunity for urban youngsters to interact with animals and suggested council consider approving the proposal for a trial period.

Noting Minto is “blessed with a lot of farmland,” Colwell suggested urban residents could arrange for their children to visit a poultry operation or even make an arrangement with someone in a rural area to allow them to set up their own chicken coop.

The motion to allow laying hens in residential areas was defeated with Bridge and councillors Dave Turton and Jean Anderson in favour, and Dirksen, Colwell, deputy mayor Ron Faulkner and councillor Ron Elliott opposed.

Council then approved a motion to accept applications for a license allowing an exemption to the restriction for Minto residents currently raising chickens in a prohibited area.

Applications must be submitted before the next council meeting on Oct. 20.