Mapleton residents seeks ban or better regulation of backyard chickens

MAPLETON – A township resident is asking council here to consider banning or better regulating backyard chickens, both inside and outside urban boundaries.

“I’m here tonight to recommend you consider not allowing backyard chickens in Mapleton Township, or at the very least provide some points to consider before you approve a bylaw,” said Kumpville Drive resident Heather Griffin.

Griffin explained Kumpville is a small community close to Conestogo Lake.

“A few years back, one neighbour decided to get backyard chickens. In the beginning they started with 10, which was enough to supply themselves with eggs and sell a few. It was a novelty,” she told council.

“The entire neighborhood was fascinated, visiting to watch and laugh at their antics and ask questions.”

However, she said, the neighbours expanded into specialty breeds and the flock quickly doubled to 20, then to 30.

“As the neighbours decided to hatch a few of their eggs, at one point I believe there were close to 50 chickens, including multiple roosters,” Griffin stated.

“I hate to burst your bubble, but those happy Saturday morning cartoons lie to you. Roosters do not just crow in the morning to wake everyone up in an acceptable time at 7:30am and then go happily and quietly along their day.

“No, roosters are the watchdogs of the flock. They call out a warning at every conceivable threat. And when you have more than one, they often call out and warn about each other …

“These roosters crowed from four in the morning until up to 10 at night, all day, every day. And their calls carry. You could hear their calls over a kilometer away.”

Griffin also pointed out that chickens “wander” and, if not properly enclosed, travel to neighbouring properties and cause damage to landscape and gardens.

“Imagine having to check for chickens before you can put your dog outside in your own yard,” she said.

“Unfortunately, my neighbourhood situation has progressed from fascination, to anger. Requests to contain the chickens and silence the roosters, so to speak, were spitefully ignored.”

Griffin suggested if backyard chickens are to be allowed, council consider a bylaw that would regulate the number allowed, the type of enclosures required, set a limited number of permits, prohibit keeping roosters and specify requirements for manure and deadstock disposal.

She provided council with the example of a bylaw regulating backyard poultry in the Municipality of Meaford.

“In addition, you need to be prepared with clear, concise guidelines and repercussions for those citizens who dare to live outside the rules. There are those who will take a mile if you give an inch,” said Griffin.

“I believe we have a bylaw around backyard chickens within the urban boundaries. Is your situation a little bit different?” asked councillor Michael Martin.

Griffin said Kumpville, a community of about 20 permanent residents, is not covered by the bylaw.

“Kumpville is a hamlet. Is a hamlet not covered under our urban boundaries? … also our bylaw does prohibit livestock and the chicken is livestock,” noted councillor Marlene Ottens.

Mapleton bylaw enforcement officer Rick Hobbelink explained “the unique nature Kumpville Drive is that it was severed off of a farm property and the zoning was never changed there. So, all those cottages there are zoned agricultural.”

Hobbelink said the zoning prevented enforcing the rules against keeping chickens.

“The only thing I could enforce in this situation was that his property wasn’t sufficient in size to accommodate for a hobby barn and a chicken coop is considered a hobby barn,” Hobbelink noted.

“I couldn’t tell him to get rid of the chickens, because he was legally allowed to have chickens there, but he wasn’t legally allowed to have the coop to house the chickens and without the coop you’ll run into welfare issues.

“So that’s the route I had to take to get compliance and have the chickens removed off the property there,” he explained.

“So maybe we do have to do a little work on some of our areas outside of the urban boundaries for situations like this,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson.