By Lethbridge Herald on March 5, 2021.
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Urban poultry were back on the agenda at the previous Picture Butte town council meeting.
During their regular Feb. 22 meeting, Picture Butte town council met with resident Jen Bowden to discuss the town’s Animal Regulations bylaw.
Last spring, Bowden had submitted a petition to allow for the keeping of backyard hens in Picture Butte. The petition arose from the Bowden family getting backyard hens of their own, only to find that they were in contradiction of the town’s Animal regulation Bylaw, which states that “No person shall keep livestock within the Town of Picture Butte”, with the exception of cases such as vet clinics rodeo grounds and other establishments where they will be held for a short amount of time and temporarily. Bowden made a request at council’s regular April 27, 2020, meeting for a waivement of the bylaw, which was ultimately denied. Bowden then started a petition to for the bylaw to be amended to allow for a small, well-cared-for flock of hens, that she submitted to the town.
During their regular May 25, 2020, meeting, town council received the results of the petition, but as the town was advised that the petition would need at least 181 signatures to meet the requirements of the Municipal Government Act, and 34 of the 190 signatures were not considered valid, the petition was declared insufficient.
Back before council, Bowden had another petition to present regarding backyard hens in town, for which she said she had collected 350 signatures. She also said she didn’t like how the last petition went.
“I didn’t love how the petition went on a number of levels. Number one, it didn’t pass, and you guys had to get a lawyer,” said Bowden. “Also, the petition says on it is that to have the (Animal Regulations) bylaw amended to allow no more than eight hens. That’s not very specific, and I don’t love that I’m just giving you this really open-ended, well, like a request but band-aid to change the bylaw without any structure around it.”
Bowden said she had done research around the potential change, and although she felt it would be great for the town, there would need to be a lot of stipulations in place.
Bowden noted that the Town of Coalhurst had recently passed a bylaw to allow for backyard hens in their town. Coalhurst’s bylaw 416-20, or the Urban Hen Bylaw, was passed in June 2020, and allows the town to issue up to 10 licences a year for someone to keep up to five hens in town. Bowden noted that because the bylaw is so strict, only people who are really enthusiastic about having backyard hens have applied for the licences, and suggested that the town implement something like that.
Bowden did suggest that the town make some changes from the Coalhurst bylaw if they did decide to go with that, such as upping the chicken limit to six and changing the annual licence fee to a one-time flat-fee.