Saint John votes on backyard chicken bylaw

Saint John could be the first city in the Maritimes to allow for backyard chicken coops if a bylaw is adopted at a meeting on Monday night.

Fredericton will also be voting on a bylaw that would allow backyard chicken coops

Saint John councillors will be voting on a bylaw that would allow backyard chicken coops at a meeting on Monday night. (CBC)

Saint John council will vote on Monday night on a bylaw amendment that would allow residents to keep up to six chickens in their backyards.

The urban chicken bylaw would end a long-standing dispute between the city, one man and his backyard chickens if it is approved at a council meeting on Monday night.

It would also mean Saint John is the first city in the Maritimes to officially allow residents to keep backyard chickens.

Raymond Breau has a chicken coop in his backyard in east Saint John.

Technically keeping chickens falls into a legal grey area because Saint John's zoning bylaws are silent on the issue.

But Saint John council will look to put an end to that silence when it votes on the bylaw that would give Breau approval to keep his chickens.

"Well, if the bylaw doesn't pass, I'm going to have to find a new home for them," he said.

Back in the spring of 2011, city bylaw officers told Breau he had to get rid of his chickens but he applied for a one-year approval to keep the birds.

But the temporary approval came to an end last summer.

Since then the coop and the birds have been in legal limbo as the city began drafting a backyard chicken bylaw.

Jody Kliffer, an urban planner with the city, has been working on drafting the new bylaw. The proposed bylaw, he said, will allow residents to apply for a permit to keep up to six chickens and follow guidelines on the size of the coop.

The backyard chicken coops will be restricted, Kliffer said, to residential areas that are zoned primarily for single family homes and people will need to apply to build them.

"It would be like, imagine, if you were building a garage, you have to go and apply for it and show them what you're going to do, that process would be in place for a chicken coop, to make sure that the proposal meets all the standards in the bylaw, if it's passed," Kliffer said.

Other cities consider backyard chicken bylaw

However, Saint John is not the only New Brunswick city that is considering bylaw changes that would allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards.

Fredericton council is debating a zoning bylaw that would allow for several changes, including backyard chicken coops.

Fredericton’s proposed zoning change would apply to single, detached houses in certain areas of the city. There could be a maximum of three hens and the eggs or meat could not be sold.

The final vote on the zoning bylaw is expected to be held on June 24.

Moncton could also be adopting a similar law after a pilot project wrapped up a few years ago.

An official with the Greater Moncton Planning Commission said last year the municipal bylaw changes, which would include backyard farms, are expected go to council sometime in 2013.