Proposed Winnipeg Bylaw amendments

“By forming a just and well thought out pro-chicken ordinance, cities can allow citizens the right to keep chickens while also addressing the concerns of other stakeholder groups. With that said, city councils should approach the issue of urban chicken keeping with a “how” rather than a “yes” or “no”, as a growing list of pro-chicken cities across the nation shows that it can be done successfully” (LaBadie, 2008, 15).

“We just moved into our new house this year. We didn’t know for a while, but our neighbours have chickens! It’s cool and they were so quiet, (laughing) we didn’t even know. Sometimes we feel bad now ‘cause our dogs bark sometimes. They make more noise than the chickens do.” (Winnipeg BYH Neighbour, 2012)

If BYH are to be legalized in Winnipeg, WUCA suggests that the exotic animals Bylaw (3389/83) is amended to exclude hens. Additionally, WUCA suggests that BYH be legalized under the Pound Bylaw (2443). Alternately, a new Bylaw could be created specifically to address and articulate regulations on urban agriculture (i.e. “Urban Agriculture Bylaw”).

“Regulation is important in disease prevention, minimizing nuisance factors, and in ensuring animal welfare. In hopes of addressing these issues, some jurisdictions have implemented the following regulations: (1) licensing of birds, (2) prohibiting chicks and roosters, (3) limiting the number of hens allowed, and (4) providing specifications on coop construction, waste management and food storage” (Pollock, et. al., 2012, 740)

Legalizing BYH would allow regulations and expectations to be placed on present and future BYH keepers, as a means of ensuring BYH keeping can be enjoyed by all. The regulations proposed by WUCA would surpass those of the Poultry Layers Code of Practice. WUCA recommends a permit process similar to that which already exists for pigeons, where keepers must “apply yearly to the Public Health Inspector for a permit permitting the keeping of said pigeons” (Pigeon Control By-law No. 978/75, City of Winnipeg, 2008)

A key factor is that any new Bylaws be easily understood and accessible “to the public, which will help ensure compliance and reduce violations” (LaBadie, 2008, 13). Articles clarifying the minimum requirements for the keeping of BYH and enforcement provisions will allow for ample regulation, increased compliance, and thus promote cost recovery.

WUCA recommends the following:

  1.  Roosters and chicks are prohibited. Only hens 6 months and older are permitted.
  2. Home slaughter is prohibited
  3. Maximum of 6 hens per property
  4. Coops must be 4.0 metres from any dwelling (not including the owners dwelling)
  5. Coops shall be vented & large enough to provide for free movement of hens
  6. The outdoor enclosure shall be predator proof, easily cleaned, and fenced to keep the hens on the property and a minimum of 10 square feet per hen
  7. Hens must be confined to coop between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
  8. Feed must be stored securely in rodentproof & waterproof containers
  9. Manure must be composted in an enclosed bin.
  10. All other animal control Bylaws will apply (i.e. noise, odour, animals-at-large, etc.)
  11. Sale of eggs or manure is prohibited
  12. Backyard hen permits/registration must be obtained from the city of Winnipeg

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