Calgary

Okotoks council approves backyard chickens

A backyard chicken pilot project has been made permanent after town council voted unanimously to allow hens to reside within town limits.

Town council voted unanimously to allow cluckers within town limits

An Okotoks family's flock of fluffy hens. Residents there can now keep urban chickens — but only three hens at a time and no roosters. (Jenni Bailey)

A dozen families in Okotoks have been given the green light to keep the feathery friends they've been raising for more than a year.

Following a successful experiment, town council has unanimously voted to change several bylaws to allow hens to roost in residents' backyards.

Residents can only keep three hens and no roosters. There is a cap on the amount of homes in the town that can house urban chickens, and families have to obtain a permit first.

'Busted'

It was Jenni Bailey, the head of the Okotoks chapter of the Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK), who got the ball rolling.

"I had backyard hens, and at the time, they were not legal. Then bylaw came a knockin'," said the mother of three.

"We got busted," added her son Mekhi.

'They're our girls.' Okotoks resident Jenni Bailey shares her morning coffee with her hen, Aspen. (Jenni Bailey)

The family voluntarily removed the hens, but they were devastated.

"They're our girls. They have names. They're a part of our family," Bailey told the Calgary Eyeopener.

And so they said goodbye to their birds — Ninja Chicken, Superman Chicken and Henny Penny.

'Do you want to change a law?'

After losing their hens, Bailey decided to take action.

"So I asked my kids, 'Hey, do you want to change a law?'"

"And we were like, 'Yeah let's do it!'" her son said.

Mekhi Bailey gives his hen, Aspen, a drink. (Jenni Bailey)

Bailey approached town council with a plan for a backyard chicken pilot project, which was approved for 15 months.

On Oct. 24, the pilot was made permanent — but that doesn't mean Okotoks residents can start building a coop tomorrow.

"It is a regulated process. You have to apply, you have to follow the guidelines within the rules and regulations that the council put forth," said Bailey.

Those rules include enrolling in a chicken safety course, paying for a permit, getting approval to build a coop on your property and having it inspected.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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