Terrace residents can now enjoy fresh eggs laid by their own backyard chickens despite concerns that it could affect property values or cause a fly problem.
City council agreed to a bylaw amendment during a meeting March 28 that would allow residents to keep up to four hens on residential properties, with only one of the councillors opposed to the move.
Councillor Brian Downie said that while he’s in favour of the bylaw in principle, there are a couple of issues that need to be discussed first.
“I’m not disputing the intent or the direction of the bylaw,” he said. “…but there are two issues. One is the concern that we’ve received from the community about the appropriateness of keeping hens in yards in some neighbourhoods that could be called upscale.”
The other issue revolves around flies, Downie said, pointing out the problem of a large number of flies on a local egg-laying farm on the Bench in previous years.
The City of Terrace filed a complaint to the Farm Industry Review Board in 2004 on behalf of some residents regarding a fly problem on Daybreak Farms Ltd. The review board ordered the farm to clean up its practices in May 2005, but last August the council agreed in an in-camera meeting to file a new complaint to the board on behalf of the residents to see if Daybreak Farms was following normal farm practices.
“Are we compounding it by having hens raised in yards throughout the community?” Downie asked of the fly problem. “I think those are things that we owe to those people that have brought this to our attention.”
Councillor Bruce Bidgood said he’s heard from people about the same concerns, and asked if other communities have had problems with backyard hens.
The city’s sustainability coordinator Tara Irwin said that flies weren’t identified as a concern.
“The recommendation that we received from other bylaw enforcement officers was really focused more on preventing for flies to occur in the first place, and that’s what we focused our bylaw on, was to keep the coop in good repair and …maintained frequently.”
She said flies come as a result of coops not being maintained properly, which is addressed in the bylaw.
Councillor Brad Pollard said he’s thought about how the coops would affect property values, but said he didn’t think it would be a problem.
“If you have a $500,000 house in Terrace, it’s very unlikely your neighbour is going to have…chickens,” he said. “I honestly don’t see everyone in town having chickens in the next year….I don’t think it’s going to become so widespread that people are going to have to worry about it.”
Bidgood pointed out that research showed that only a few households would probably have backyard chickens in any case.
Allowing backyard hens fits into the city’s longterm goal of increasing home-grown and reliable food sources. The hens would be used for laying eggs only, not for meat.
Despite Downie’s objection, the rest of council passed the bylaw adoption though. Mayor Dave Pernarowski was absent from the meeting.