GUELPH/ERAMOSA ‒ The backyard chicken debate will return to council chambers today.
This follows council's direction for staff to bring back a report on allowing backyard hens in smaller agricultural lots and rural residential areas after some councillors said they feel hens should be allowed in rural residential areas as "people who want to have backyards chickens probably already do so illegally."
In Guelph/Eramosa, hens currently fall under the definition of livestock and are only permitted on agriculturally zoned properties two acres or larger in size.
In the report, staff said while Guelph/Eramosa is the only municipality within the county to include a provision that specifically restricts the keeping of livestock to lots of two acres or more, member municipalities have implemented other controls to ensure the appropriate localization of livestock within their communities.
In Puslinch, Centre Wellington and Erin, reduced agricultural lots are allowed to be a minimum of one acre in size, subject to MDS requirements, and must maintain a minimum setback of 18 metres from all property lines.
Of these three municipalities, Puslinch is the only one that doesn't permit the conditional allowance of chickens in residential areas.
In comparison, Mapleton, Wellington North, and Minto apply a minimum reduced agricultural lot size of 10.1 ha (25 ac) which, while "more restrictive," coincides with hobby barn regulations, defined as a “building or structure designed, intended or used to house animals including the boarding of horses, but excludes kennels”.
While Minto’s agricultural zone requires a minimum of two acres to establish a hobby barn, they also have provisions specific to the allowance of chickens in residential areas.
Pending the council’s direction, should they choose to move forward, staff are recommending a housekeeping amendment for the township's zoning bylaw, including a public meeting and amendments to the township's animal control bylaw, as well as the creation of a specific bylaw specific to the keeping of chickens.
The full report is available here.
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.