Residents of Sparwood are now allowed to keep hens on their property, with a strict set of rules for keeping them.
According to District officials, those who want chickens may keep up to five hens, but no roosters. You must also get consent from all neighbours and get approval for the enclosure and coop.
Those who choose to keep chickens are not allowed to sell products derived from the hens, such as meat or manure. That said, residents will be allowed to give away eggs, as the bylaw states, “the sale of eggs derived from Urban Hens is permitted as long as such activities are compliant with all Municipal, Provincial, and Federal laws or regulations.”
Mayor David Wilks said electric fencing will be necessary for chicken enclosures to deter potential predators.
Wilks noted that the timing of the bylaw to allow backyard chickens and the difficulties Sparwood has been having with bears in the community has been a stroke of bad luck.
“We’ve done everything we think we can do. There’s no arguing that chickens can be an attractant to some four-legged critters,” said Wilks. ‘It was sheer coincidence that the chicken bylaw came up in the same year we’ve had a bad bear year.”
Wilks said the process of writing up the bylaw took some time before the final version was ready.
“We went through a lot of municipalities that have a lot of different rules, and we believe we have it as tight as we can,” said Wilks.
A number of residents already have chicken coops, according to the mayor, but the District will work with them to become legal.
“We already have some coops in town anyway, that we’re aware of that were illegal up to last Tuesday. We’ll be dealing with those people, trying to figure out how we can get them up to speed on things and go from there,” said Wilks.
The district will have the bylaw in place for a year before re-examining it to see if any amendments are needed.