Stettler County defeats urban chicken bylaw after public hearing

The County of Stettler council defeated a proposed urban chicken bylaw after a public hearing Sept. 9. The meeting was televised to meet pandemic guidelines.

The public hearing for Bylaw 1640-20, keeping of urban chickens, was chaired by Reeve Larry Clarke. The reeve asked if anyone wrote in or wished to speak in favour of the proposed bylaw. 

Valerie Mappin of Erskine and Kim Cooper of Gadsby sent in their support of urban chickens. 

Cooper noted an informal survey was conducted in Gadsby of 24 people and they all supported urban chickens.

When Clarke asked if there were any submissions or speakers opposed to urban chickens, Terry Gallant of Endiang gave a submission stating opposition because urban chicks attract predators to town, could cause an unsightly situation and would likely cause a lot of work for bylaw officers that would be better spent elsewhere.

Kerri Pothier of Gadsby was also opposed and stated her family lives near an urban chicken operation in the hamlet and have had a lot of problems, including multiple crowing roosters, an insufficient coop which allows chickens to get loose, roam the neighbourhood and cause damage to private property, unpleasant smell and a large number of chickens, including up to 150, which attract predators.

After public presentations, Clarke closed the pubic hearing and councillors debated the bylaw.

Coun. James Nibourg stated he wasn’t sure this bylaw was what was intended and planned to vote against it. 

He said the bylaw would create red tape and suggested the county consider something simpler, such as allowing applicants to have three to four chickens which meet provincial government guidelines.

Coun. Cheri Neitz stated she liked the detail of the proposed bylaw and stated one of the situations described in the public hearing wouldn’t have met the bylaw rules anyway.

Reeve Clarke stated having people slaughtering chickens in town seemed unusual to him, and he also reminded council the county is likely facing a very tight budget in 2021 and needed to keep things as simple as possible. 

“This looks like it could be a nightmare to monitor,” said Clarke.

Coun. Dave Grover agreed policing the bylaw would be a big job for the peace officers who probably have more important things to do. 

Grover stated he was opposed to urban chickens anyway and anyone who wants chickens should move to a farm.

Coun. Les Stulberg stated the majority of the people in his two hamlets, Endiang and Byemoor, don’t want urban chickens because they attract predators to town, would be a waste of peace officer’s time and ensuring people follow the rules would be a major undertaking.

Neitz noted, as far as she knew, the majority of people in her division supported urban chickens.

However, second reading of the bylaw was defeated by a 5 to 2 vote.

The councillors did vote in favour of staff developing a simpler policy for urban chickens which would come back to council at a future meeting.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/East Central Alberta Review

Stettler County defeated a proposed urban chicken bylaw at their Sept. 9 regular meeting. (ECA Review/Coralee Ventnor)