Billings gives first reading to regulate keeping, licencing of backyard chickens

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KAGAWONG—Billings township has given first reading on a bylaw to regulate the keeping and licensing of backyard chickens, which would include permits being required and fines in place for those not abiding by the bylaw. At a previous meeting, council had agreed that a new bylaw to regulate the keeping and feeding of domestic and exotic animals or wildlife, other than cats or dogs (not including chickens), along with a separate bylaw including the keeping of backyard chickens would be established.

At a meeting last week councillors Sharon Alkenbrack and Bryan Barker moved and seconded the motion to approve first reading of the bylaw for licensing backyard chickens.

Township bylaw enforcement officer, “Arthur (Moran) has done a lot of work researching other municipal bylaws in Ontario,” said Mayor Ian Anderson. “He has incorporated three other municipalities’ bylaws. The document is lengthy and will take time to digest,” he said, proposing that council hold a special meeting to discuss the proposed bylaw in the near future.” 

“Rather than spending an awful lot of time on this tonight, I would like council to be able to do this justice, take initial comments tonight and schedule a second special council meeting to discuss this issue at length.”

“I would like to congratulate Arthur on this bylaw, it is very well done,” said Councillor Alkenbrack. She brought forward a question concerning the issue of disposal of harvested chickens and that proper setbacks are needed for chicken housing away from septic systems, as well as suggesting that when an application comes in from someone wanting to have backyard chickens, that this should require permission from neighbouring property owners.

Mayor Anderson told council, “One question I have in particular, is how many chickens we would allow? The option has been proposed at between four and six.”

“I don’t have a problem with six,” said Councillor Alkenbrack.

Councillor Barker said, “I don’t really have any particular questions this evening. My questions can be saved for the special meeting we will be having.” He also raised a concern as to how harvested chickens would be disposed of.

“On the issue of neighbouring permission for someone to have backyard chickens, the problem with that is if neighbours have a dispute on any issue, I can see problems with trying to get permission for having chickens,” said Councillor Barker. “I’m not convinced that neighbours’ permission should be required. But this is worthy of discussion.” He said six should be the maximum number of chickens allowed.

Councillors Sharon Jackson and Michael Hunt also voiced support with permit holders being allowed to have a maximum of six chickens.

Mayor Anderson said as part of the bylaw, “I want to emphasize we are only talking about chickens here, not roosters (as they would not be allowed under the bylaw). And there is a need for proper housing and care of the birds in the bylaw.”

Mayor Anderson also noted, “there is nothing here (in the proposed bylaw) that is etched in stone. We will hold a special meeting to provide further input by all members of council.”

Council passed first reading of the bylaw.

Under the proposed bylaw, “persons who are wishing to raise backyard chickens, at a dwelling, for eggs and food purposes in designated residential zones and shoreline residential zones within the township of Billings, shall obtain a permit issued by the township prior to having chickens on their property. As well, there will be an annual $40 administration fee upon submission of an application to raise backyard chickens. There is also a fine schedule for not following the provisions of the bylaw that includes fines ranging from $250-500, the maximum for not having a permit.”