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Richmond city council split on backyard chickens

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:17 PDT, Tue July 7, 2020

Last Updated: 3:45 PDT, Thu July 16, 2020

Richmond city councillors debated expanding its backyard chicken program at yesterday’s general purposes committee meeting.

But they ultimately approved a staff proposal (Option 2) that enables all residents on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) property to keep backyard chickens—regardless of their property’s size. Those who reside outside the ALR, in detached single family homes in residential zones, can also keep chickens—provided their property covers at least 2,000 square metres.

“I am completely opposed to Option 2,” said Coun. Michael Wolfe. “It does not include the residential backyard chicken program, which is where the education, support and guidance is.”

Coun. Kelly Greene agreed, saying that Option 2 does not provide “comprehensive backyard chicken regulations.” Risks associated with backyard chickens could be mitigated through bylaw and regulation, she added—which is not part of the current proposal.

An alternative proposal (Option 3) calls for the creation of a residential backyard chicken program for single detached family residential zones, along with a bylaw and licensing requirement. Coun. Wolfe, Greene, and Harold Steves voiced support for this option.

“When we have a residential backyard chicken program, as proposed in Option 3, when we can have these things in bylaw and regulation, then we’re going to have a much better program where we’re not going to have residents angry and upset because their neighbours have chickens,” said Coun. Greene.

Currently, backyard chickens can only be kept in Richmond on properties of at least 2,000 square metres (21,529 square feet). Several options were explored by city staff following a referral last summer that directed city staff to study the viability of chickens in backyards on properties both within and outside the ALR. 

While current animal control bylaws don’t limit the number of chickens allowed on a property, the motion was amended to include a limit of two to eight chickens per property.

The motion to approve Option 2 was passed, with Coun. Wolfe, Greene, Steves and Carol Day opposed. The issue will come before council at a later date.

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