Backyard hens could soon be laying eggs in Penticton residential neighbourhoods.
City council Monday night
narrowly voted in favour of an
18-month pilot project that would allow residents to keep a maximum of five hens in coops behind their home. No roosters will be permitted.
The idea was first proposed last fall following receipt of a 100-name petition and endorsement by the city's agriculture advisory committee.
Anthony Haddad, the city's director of development, told council that backyard hens are permitted in a number of municipalities, including Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and Terrace. However, city councils in Kelowna, Castlegar and Calgary have rejected the idea.
Haddad said a pilot program would allow the city to collect data on any issues that may arise. If council later opted to abandon the project, residents who bought hens and coops under the pilot project would be allowed to keep them.
Council voted 4-3 in favour of the test period, with councillors Andrew Jakubeit, Helena Konanz and John Vassilaki opposed.
Coun. Garry Litke said the
18-month trial could determine the level of community support for backyard hens before council decides whether to continue with the program.
"It would give people a chance to try it out and give staff the opportunity to monitor how it's working," Litke said.
Coun. Judy Sentes said she has been lobbied by a surprisingly large number of people, including some who already quietly own backyard hens.
However, Konanz said council is opening a Pandora's box, noting there are alternatives for those who want farm-fresh eggs.
"We live in an area where you can ride your bike down the street, two miles from here, and buy eggs from somebody who's in one of these (agricultural) areas that actually allows it," she said.
Jakubeit wondered if backyard hens could create difficulties with pests and predators, such as
coyotes. He added hens normally lay eggs for only about two years and suggested this could pose a problem for those looking to get rid of their older birds.