After a successful three-year pilot project Airdrie City council unanimously approved a bylaw that will allow residents to keep hens in their backyard.
“The Urban Agriculture Pilot Project (UAPP) represents the City’s continued effort to provide opportunities for residents to learn and explore various options for integrating local food and urban agriculture,” according to Gail Gibeau, senior planner at the City of Airdrie.
“It was created in response to a public engagement process that was conducted to determine what urban agriculture activities residents were interested in supporting and/or pursuing within city limits.”
The bylaw sets the minimum number of hens allowed at two. The maximum number of hens in a yard will be dependent on the lot size of the house:
- A maximum of two hens on sites with a minimum area under 400 square metres.
- A maximum of four hens on sites with a minimum area equal to or greater than 400 square metres.
“The Backyard Hens Pilot Project represents the City’s continued effort to provide opportunities for residents to learn and explore various options for integrating local food and urban agriculture,” says Gibeau.
“Through various types of urban agriculture initiatives, the City is able to contribute towards making the Airdrie community more socially sustainable by meeting the health, well-being, and social needs of the community.”
The bylaw also includes regulations around enclosures for the animals. Both the henhouse and the run area shall be fully enclosed (i.e., fencing, chicken wire, roof covering) to provide hens secure access to exercise, sunlight, earth and vegetation when unsupervised during the day. It shall be constructed to prevent the hens’ escape and prevent entry by intruders or predators. The maximum size of the henhouse and the run is 4.65 square metres each.
Backyard Hens are only allowed on single family residential lots and roosters are not permitted.
The pilot project included 48 households and has been operating since 2017 to test the proposed guidelines at a small-scale in order to allow for its full impact, benefits and weaknesses to be evaluated prior to a potential city-wide implementation program.
In November 2019, an online questionnaire was used to solicit feedback from the participating households. Overall, the feedback received indicated support for city-wide implementation.
Residents can now apply for a development permit to keep hens in the backyard of their houses.