Will backyard chickens soon rule the roost in urban area of Pelham?

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Published November 11, 2022 at 11:53 am

At an October 3 meeting, Town Council directed Pelham town staff to review its current bylaws regarding the keeping of chickens in rural areas of town but outside the urban part.

So staff did precisely that, bringing forward a report at the November 7 meeting, the last meeting before the newly-elected council meets in early January.

The efficiency of town staff turned out to be an issue for many residents who didn’t expect the matter to be dealt with until the new year.

Director of Community Planning and Development Barb Wiens was somewhat taken aback, telling council they directed her staff to come back with a report and that was exactly what they did. The notion of a January report was never mentioned to staff.

To that end, council decided it was a matter for the newly-elected council to deal with and deferred the matter until January.

The issue of backyard chickens in various areas of Pelham has become hotter than a basket of spicy wings dropped off at a restaurant table.

At the moment, Pelham bylaws allow backyard chickens in the rural and some urban areas of town but have strong restrictions against them in the urban zones of Fonthill and Fenwick and on any rural property smaller than 0.4 hectares.

For many residents, it’s become something of a grey area of who is and who isn’t allowed backyard chickens. That’s precisely what Wiens’ staff report was meant to clarify – the same report that was deferred until January.

The issue of backyard chickens got a lot of attention in the tiny town after a petition was launched by an urban resident, Pam DeFazio, who started keeping chickens during the pandemic. A complaint from a neighbour brought her actions to town staff’s attention.

The matter seems to have the current council split with some believing many urban backyards are large enough to enable chicken coops without issue and others believing that the feed left out for chickens will attract coyotes and rats to urban neighbourhoods.

On her end, DeFazio started an online petition, stating that “we are learning that local, sustainable and humane food supply is essential to the health and well-being of our citizens. We believe that every person should have the right to keep hens on their own property as long as they are doing so responsibly.”

Right now, her petition seems stalled at 93 signatures, while DeFazio was hoping for 100 when she created it.

Regardless, the entire matter will sit in its roost, waiting for January to roll in.

DeFazio’s petition can be seen HERE.

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