UPDATED: Chicken bylaw gets another look

Tanya Buskell feeds her backyard chickens with her neighbour, Lily.  - Alex Butler
Tanya Buskell feeds her backyard chickens with her neighbour, Lily.
— image credit: Alex Butler

Tanya Buskell and her hens can relax – for now.

She was told by a bylaw officer in mid-January that her flock of chickens were in contravention of the city's zoning bylaw, and that she would have to get rid of them within 30 days.

However, Buskell said she was contacted by the city on Friday and told she could keep her hens until council can review the bylaw and make a decision to change it or leave it as it is currently written. A report from the manager of bylaw enforcement, Gordon Ferguson, will likely come before council this month.

Mayor Bruce Banman said he wanted to spare Buskell the "pain and anguish" of getting rid of her hens until council has reviewed the issue.

Though he is open to reconsidering the bylaw, Banman said he feels it is not likely council will endorse reversing the ban on backyard chickens. Banman said due to Abbotsford's poultry industry, anything that could increase the chance of an avian flu outbreak must be discouraged.

Banman said council will review the bylaw report, consider other cities' policies, and come to an informed decision.

Buskell told The News, "I think it's really ironic that here we are, the 'City in the Country,' and you can have chickens in Vancouver but you can't have chickens in Abbotsford."

Vancouver has allowed backyard flocks since 2010, restricted to four hens and no roosters at a single-family home, along with rules for proper care and management.

Buskell said she agrees with such conditions, so hens are not disturbance. She informed her neighbours when she got her flock, and some like to bring their children to see the hens.

Though Buskell admits her hens cluck, she doesn't see how it's a problem for others.

Buskell wasn't aware her chickens are a bylaw infringement. She had signed up for a free course at the University of Fraser Valley on the proper care of backyard chickens.



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