Council to review chicken bylaw

by | Oct 11, 2023

Regulations, established in 2020, allow residents in Woodstock to raise chickens under tight restrictions

Woodstock Municipal Council agreed to have town staff review bylaws about raising chickens in residential areas in response to a resident’s letter.

The letter from a St. James Street resident complained about her neighbour’s chicken coop located against the fence and hedge dividing the two properties.

“I wrote a letter to the town in early summer regarding the stench from a neighbour’s chicken coop but have not heard as to what the town has done about it,” the resident explained in the letter.

According to the letter and confirmed by Mayor Trina Jones, the town’s compliance officer visited the neighbour raising the chickens, finding they complied with the town bylaw.

The lengthy letter raised several issues, including potential health hazards, asking if the municipality studied the issue in depth before instituting its current bylaw.

Council discussion determined the town’s current bylaw dates to 2020, adding the town closely aligned it with similar bylaws in other communities.

Coun. Christa McCartney said that while the compliance officer ruled that the chicken owners complied with the regulations, it didn’t match up to the neighbour’s complaints.

While the letter described the chicken coop pushed up against the fence and hedge separating the property, McCartney noted any such structure must be a minimum of two metres from a neighbour’s property line.

Council also heard that the bylaw states that anyone wanting to raise chickens in an urban area must comply with all regulations and have pre-approval from the town.

Coun. Will Belyea questioned the wisdom of raising chickens in a dense residential setting.

“Does it make a lot of sense to have chickens in that area,” he asked.

Belyea also wants more details surrounding the “turnaround time’ for the compliance officer.

Council agreed to hold any further discussion on the issue until after it hears from municipal staff at a future committee-in-council meeting.

Woodstock Police Chief Gary Forward touched briefly on the force’s bylaw officer’s handling of chicken regulations and other bylaws during a Council-in-Committee report on Oct. 10.

He explained the force is enhancing its reporting system.

“Every matter the bylaw officer engages in will be in the reports,” Forward said.

He added the process will ensure the complainant is advised of every conclusion.

The chief said he will work with council on bylaw issues.

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