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Natalie Dunn will be among a pilot group in Fredericton with urban chickens. (CBC)

Fredericton has passed a variance on a bylaw to temporarily allow urban chickens in the New Brunswick city.

The pilot program was launched this week and will permit a few residents to set up backyard chicken coops for one year. The bylaw will then be reassessed.

Fredericton joins more than 300 North American cities allowing urban chickens. The issue has also been a hot-button topic in Halifax, where urban chickens remain prohibited.

Natalie Dunn and her husband Phil Cyr will be among the chicken pioneers. They plan to install a chicken coop in their backyard to house three egg-laying birds.

"I was very surprised myself. You always think that it's not something that the city would want — we are not farmers," Dunn said Friday. 

Dunn and her husband are eager to have their own chickens so they can be more self-sufficient and environmentally friendly.

"It's just a way for us to live more sustainably, [to] know where our food comes from," she said. "It's kind of like a hobby for [Cyr]. He grows vegetables and now eggs."  

Concerns about smell, hygiene

Fredericton councillor Jordan Graham said council had heard from people opposed to urban chickens.

"Some of it was about the hygiene of it, others was the smell that might come from it, and then others simply were concerned that there might be a nuisance having a potential noisy chicken coop next door," he said. 

Graham said after the year-long pilot runs its course, council will reconsider its stance on urban chickens. 

"After one year we will be able to re-evaluate everything. We will be able to see if there are rules that need to be put in place, or if it should discontinued," he said.