July 17th, 2024

Keeping chickens in an urban setting poses no health risk to humans

By Lethbridge Herald on December 9, 2023.


At a public hearing in front of city council on November 28th with regards to an order against me for having chickens, the question came up from counsellor Dodic regarding the reasons for  why a bylaw prohibiting chickens in urban backyards was ever enacted.  

I’ve made no secret of having chickens in my backyard and when people would come over to visit I would show them my “chicken operation” (all four of them) and inevitably at some point in the conversation the same question would come up; why are they illegal in Lethbridge? 

I’ve always been baffled by this as well until I learned the following.

 Back in 1977 before there was ever a bylaw, if a resident had chickens it was in much larger numbers. You can easily fit 100 chickens into an average sized garage. Obviously living next door to 100 anything can pose a problem.

 So in 1977, with no regulations, having chickens was ideal for food and revenue.  

Another reason that provided impetus for a chicken bylaw was increased urbanization.

 This rural-urban exodus created an increase in city bylaws on a number of fronts.

Finally, Dodic was right in stating that health concerns may have come up as a reason. 

But sometimes lived experience changes things. We don’t have to go far back in time to see this. 

This quote I found on the Government of Canada inspections website clears the air somewhat: “Anyone with birds must practice good biosecurity habits to protect poultry and prevent disease. HPAI (avian flu) is not a food safety concern. There is no evidence to suggest that eating cooked poultry or eggs could transmit HPAI to humans.” The fact that we need to “practice good biosecurity habits” is a no-brainer. You would never let your four- year-old play in the kitty litter nor would you ever pick up your dog’s feces with your bare hands. Let common sense prevail.

For the record, no deaths of avian flu have been recorded in Canada (National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health) and globally there have been fewer than 100 in over 25 years. This is spectacularly low considering the billions of chickens on the planet that people have and continue to care for.

Gilles Leclair


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It appears that you do not want this bylaw to apply to you for a plethora of reasons, which may or may not be true. How about abide by the current by-law, obey the law and get the chickens out of your yard. When you have drummed up support for your “enterprise” lobby to get the bylaw changed. In other words, quit the defiance of the law based on your preference.

John P Nightingale

And you of course have never defied the law , being so pure and perfect. The writer simply spoke out on a subject debated in several city’s , most of which favoured the motion. Why the cynicism toward the writer?


I used to enforce it nimrod, broke it yes, abided by and paid the dues/fines. What’s your excuse. No cynicism. Obey the law or pay the price. Simple. Same goes for you too.


such a d-bag.


An informative letter. I think Gilles is going about this in the right way. Laws don’t change without education and a little pressure.