Nova Scotia

Halifax staff looking at whether backyards can house suites and hens

Halifax Regional councillors have kicked off a planning process that will consider allowing single homes to have "backyard" or secondary suites, as well at looking at permitting some residential chickens.

Council asks staff for reports on 'laneway' homes, impact of having hens in all residential areas

Laneway homes are often built behind another house, in some cases, to house extended family members. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Halifax Regional councillors have kicked off a planning process that will consider allowing single-family homes to have "backyard" or secondary suites and permitting some laying hens in residential areas.  

Coun. Waye Mason acknowledged there are concerns from some people who worry about the impact of secondary suites, also known as laneway homes, in neighbourhoods. 

But he added the changes could help with a lack of affordable housing.

"I know it's not going to be an easy conversation, and I know not everyone is going to agree with it," said Mason. "But I think it's a good conversation to have."

Coun. Lisa Blackburn, who represents Middle and Upper Sackville, also supports at least considering the changes because she thinks it will allow seniors to remain the communities that they have lived in for decades.

"This means our seniors could age in place," she said.

Regulations for raising backyard chickens have returned to the council agenda. (CBC)

Coun. Russell Walker, who represents Bedford Basin West, was only one who voted against the motion, calling it a "slippery slope."

"Ninety per cent of the ones in my district do not have a permit to be there, how do we know they are up to code?" he said. 

Halifax councillors also asked staff to look into the idea of allowing a certain number of egg-laying hens in all residential areas. The rules wouldn't permit roosters.

The municipal rules around chickens have remained murky despite the city softening its approach to a contentious bylaw that barred urban chickens from the Halifax peninsula in 2013

Chickens getting approval across Canada

Coun. Shawn Cleary pointed out that a number of cities across Canada are either testing the idea or have approved rules to allow chickens including Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and parts of Montreal.  

"I think it's better to have a uniform look at this," said Cleary. "Good regulations can ensure minimum rodent impact."

He also insisted chickens are quieter than dogs.

Coun. Steve Streatch said he's worked with chickens in an agricultural setting.

"I can't imagine why anyone would want to do this," he said. "They're dirty creatures and they make a mess."

But Streatch said he didn't want to stand in the way of anyone who wants fresh eggs, so he voted in favour of getting a report on the issue. 

About the Author

Pam Berman


Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to