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No major uptake on unique animals nearly two years after bylaw

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Jan. 9, 2019

by Colin Smith

Morinville has lifted the cap on the number of chickens that can be kept on a property in the town.

But that doesn’t mean someone could set up an industrial-size chicken farm down the block.

At its January 9 regular meeting, Town Council voted to remove restrictions in the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw on the number of permits for owning “unique” animals that can be issued and the number of animals allowed for each permit.

When Council in November 2017 decided to allow permits for animals that are unique in that they are not the usual pets, e.g. chickens and pigs, it was as a year-long trial that restricted the number of permits to 10 and the number of animals per permit to six. Initially, only fowl were to be allowed, but other animals were later included.

At that time, there were concerns about the Administration being overwhelmed by the number of permit requests and resources being stretched in enforcing standards.

However, there have been only four permit applications, with three issued. No complaints about unique animals were received. There has been one charge related to someone owning an animal without obtaining a permit.
Removal of the restrictions will enable Morinville Public School to have an educational chicken program to include fifteen birds.

Information provided in support of the application said the increased number of chickens will provide a dozen eggs for the school’s Food for Thought breakfast program, will be better able to winter together in the school’s chicken coop and can better protect themselves from predatory birds as a flock.

Councillor Nicole Boutestein expressed concern about the potential impact of removing the limit on the number of animals.

“I think it’s a great pilot project for the school,” she said. “But I’m not sure I want 20 chickens in my neighbour’s yard.

Morinville enforcement services manager William Norton, in attendance at the meeting, noted that 20 chickens would not be allowed in a residential setting, with seven or eight probably being the maximum.

All applications are judged on the basis of the size of the property, the type of animals, how they are housed and the proximity of neighbours, Norton said.

Speaking in support of his motion to remove the restrictions, Councillor Stephen Dafoe said the major thing that Council would be doing was removing the limit on the number of people who could own unique animals.

“I think we need to trust that our staff is not going to be saying ‘Oh, you can have 40 chickens because the sky is the limit’.”

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