The cap on urban hen licences has officially fled the coop.
At their regular meeting Monday, Lacombe city council voted 5-1 in favour of removing a proposed one-per-1,000 people limitation on urban hen licences, meaning the number that may be issued in the city is now unrestricted.
The decision followed a previous council meeting discussion where councillors wondered if 13 licences would be enough and asked for the rationale behind the 10 licence cap the preceding council approved for the pilot project.
Originally, as per Corporate Services Director Diane Piche, the number had been chosen based on interest at the time, and the proposed increase to 13 with the one-per-1,000 model would allow for some growth of the program.
However, Coun. Jonathan Jacobson said he didn’t see a point in restricting the number of licences, given there had been no complaints during the two years the pilot project ran.
“If we have chickens coming out of… everywhere, and neighbours are at each other’s throats, I guess administration would bring it back for us to revise. But if there hasn’t been any substantial neighbourhood destruction to date, I would be in favour of treating this like any other household pet,” he said.
The only concern he had was the idea of clustering of urban hens in any one particular area of the city. However, as the licence application process requires at least 50 per cent approval from neighbours, they decided it would not be a factor.
“While council has eliminated the maximum number of licences for this program, there still is an application process in place to ensure that this project is safe, humane and enjoyable,” said Piche.
Only Coun. Chris Ross voted against removing the limitation.
Council also gave third and final reading to making the program a permanent one, following the two-year pilot project that first began in 2016.
“The citizens who participate in the program are very passionate about their urban hens,” said Mayor Grant Creasey. “Council recognizes that urban hen-keeping is a growing trend in the region and is supported by many in the community. We are also committed to promoting a healthy, connected and active community, and this program gives residents access to fresh, locally grown food year-round.”
For more information on the City of Lacombe’s urban hen bylaw, visit