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Collingwood council exploring backyard hen program

‘There are so many positive things about it. Obviously, I think it would need to be regulated. I would like to look into it more because there is a need in our community for it,’ says Coun. Chris Potts
Collingwood Councillor Chris Potts (centre) during a recent council meeting.

Council is moving forward on exploring the backyard chicken issue.

During their meeting on April 22, councillors voted unanimously in favour of asking town staff to look at updating its existing bylaws and report back on a possible backyard chicken licensing program.

As part of the motion, staff will explore a framework for chickens and other small-scale livestock rearing, which can include bees, goats or rabbits. The framework would be explored through a bylaw update, which would include public consultation, and staff would report back to council with options.

“As far back as campaign time, I recognized there were a lot of... residents who thought something like this could come forward,” said Coun. Chris Potts, who put forward the motion. “In today’s economy, food sustainability is a challenge a lot of families are facing with the cost of groceries.”

Since putting the notice of motion forward earlier in April, Potts said he’s received hundreds of emails; some in favour of the idea, and some against.

“There are so many positive things about it. Obviously, I think it would need to be regulated. I would like to look into it more because there is a need in our community for it,” he said.

Currently, backyard chickens are not allowed in the Town of Collingwood as the town’s zoning bylaw prohibits the use of a lot for the raising, breeding, keeping or intensive feeding of livestock or any prohibited animal or private zoo.

In the neighbouring municipality of the Town of The Blue Mountains, chickens are only permitted in areas designated by the town’s zoning bylaw and are not permitted in areas zoned residential.

Following a successful six-year pilot project, City of Orillia council voted in March 2023 to make their backyard hen program permanent, which allows residents to keep up to four hens, confined to a coop and/or chicken run for the purpose of laying eggs. Their program is limited to properties with a lot size greater than 500 square metres. There is a $100 one-time fee to obtain a license. Roosters are not permitted, and the selling of eggs is prohibited.

“I know a few people who have goats. I’m not saying I’d like to see goats running around town, but they are a lot more environmentally friendly for cutting your lawn, and they fertilize too,” said Coun. Steve Perry during Monday’s discussion.

Coun. Kathy Jeffery noted she remembers the matter coming before a previous council.

“We tried our level best some time ago. I know bees are of particular interest to a lot of people,” she said. “If this is just asking staff to find a framework... to give people an option, I’m in favour of pursuing that.”

Mayor Yvonne Hamlin said that while she was voting in favour, she had concerns about the amount of staff work required.

“We would have to make sure it’s successful, and that it is something the community wants,” she said.

Council voted unanimously in favour. Deputy Mayor Tim Fryer was absent.

- With files from Greg McGrath-Goudie

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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