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Delta not ready to OK backyard chickens

Workshop looks at issue, but restrictions continue

Delta is in no rush to change its policy when it comes to allowing homeowners to have backyard chickens.

Delta council held a workshop last month on a proposal by Tsawwassen resident Vera Ganderton, who wants the municipality to create a test area allowing two to four hens per backyard.

Council recently received letters from other homeowners in Ladner and Tsawwassen asking for a bylaw change in order to allow people to raise hens as well.

Civic politicians were told at the workshop the current bylaw only permits the keeping of chickens on large residential lots.

In residential zones, the keeping of households pets is permitted, however, the definition of household pets in the current bylaw specifically excludes poultry.

The keeping of chickens is permitted in zones that allow farming.

Several municipalities in B.C. now have regulations that permit the keeping of chickens on residential properties. Vancouver amended its bylaws last year to allow the keeping of up to four backyard hens, subject to specific conditions, including all the birds being registered with the city.

Coops in Vancouver must be between four square feet and 10 square feet in size and cannot be kept in front yards, nor on apartment or condominium balconies.

Eggs produced by the hens cannot be sold commercially. When hens reach the end of their lifespan of up to six years, they cannot be killed by the owner but must be taken to a slaughterhouse or veterinarian.

Ganderton, who submitted a petition with over 100 names, told the Optimist she was surprised and disappointed by the initial reaction by members of council.

She said there seems to be a lack of knowledge by civic politicians.

"This would be a nobrainer, especially in an agricultural community like ours," she said.

Noting she wouldn't support people having noisy roosters, Ganderton had several hens in her backyard, which is large but doesn't meet the minimum requirement. She said he had to remove her birds after a visit from bylaw staff.

Ganderton added that hens, which wouldn't pose a nuisance if properly cared for like any other pet, are ideal in that they not only lay eggs but also get rid of bothersome back yard bugs.

While they're not looking at a policy change at this time, Leathem said he'll do further research on the subject, which will be presented to council in a report later this year.

Ganderton hopes it can be an election issue this fall.

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