Council continues ban on backyard chickens

Councillors say chickens raise concerns for the agricultural industry

Council voted against allowing backyard chickens in Abbotsford.

Council voted against allowing backyard chickens in Abbotsford.

Backyard chickens will continue to be banned in Abbotsford’s urban areas following a decision from council on Monday evening.

Leslie Stettler, an Abbotsford resident, asked council to consider a pilot project allowing people to have small flocks of hens in their backyards.

A report from city staff recommended council continue to ban keeping chicken in residential areas, stating that despite requests to keep flocks, the city receives complaints about neighbours with chickens – mostly due to rodent attraction, noise and unsightliness. The report also states that to a lesser extent, concerns about avian flu have been raised.

Council ultimately voted against the proposal, citing the concerns for neighbours, and the potential impact on the agricultural sector.

Coun. Patricia Ross said she remembers the 2004 avian flu outbreak in the Fraser Valley when about 17 million birds had to be destroyed. She said that because Abbotsford is the centre of the poultry industry, “it’s just too big a risk.”

Some B.C. communities allow backyard flocks, including Surrey, Delta, New Westminster, Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo, with a variety of different rules and stipulations for numbers or limiting ownership to hens.

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

Chilliwack, Langley, and Mission do not allow chickens.

Mayor Bruce Banman acknowledged that some communities allow chickens, but Abbotsford’s closest neighbours continue to ban them. He said that communities like Chilliwack and Mission likely have the same concerns that council has, that it will impact the agricultural sector and the “many, many job” that it provides.

Banman said that unlike Vancouver, people in Abbotsford can have hobby farms if they like to take part in agricultural practices.

Only Coun. Bill MacGregor voted to allow for a pilot project, saying a project with proper rules and regulations could be effective.