Winnipeggers lobby for allowing backyard chickens

A Winnipeg city committee must decide whether to start looking at the possibility of letting residents raise chickens in their backyards.
Debate on whether people should be allowed to raise chickens in their backyards has gone to Winnipeg city hall, with at least one councillor's feathers ruffled when a live chicken appeared in council chambers. 1:46

A Winnipeg city committee must decide whether to start looking at the possibility of letting residents raise chickens in their backyards.

A group of urban poultry proponents appeared on Monday morning before the standing policy committee on protection and community services, which is considering a motion to have the city study the feasibility of allowing backyard hens.

Six delegations spoke in favour of allowing hens to be raised in backyards, arguing that the chickens would make great companions that could provide fresh eggs every day.

One woman, Louise May, even snuck a live chicken — stashed in a box — into council chambers to show that the birds are quiet and clean.

But committee chair Coun. Paula Havixbeck said it is illegal to bring a chicken into the chamber, so she had May and the feathered friend escorted out.

Listed under exotic animal bylaw

Backyard chickens are currently not allowed in Winnipeg because the animals are in the city's exotic animal bylaw.

As a result, there are chickens being kept illegally in homes across the city, the committee was told.

Delegates who addressed council say they want chickens to be listed instead under the pet bylaw, which would allow the backyard birds.

Several cities, including Seattle, Chicago and Vancouver, allow the raising of hens within city limits, supporters argued.

The proponents said chickens would make great pets because they are quiet and well-groomed and do not spread disease.

As well, regular laying hens can produce approximately 300 eggs a year, they said.

"Chickens don't make as much noise as lawnmowers [or] as barking dogs," Natalie Carreiro, who lives in the Maples/Garden City neighbourhood, told CBC News before Monday's meeting.

"They're not very smelly at all if you keep them in a humane way, the same as a dog. What's the issue?"

The backyard chicken supporters stressed to council that they would not be raising roosters.