Chickens back on Richmond council agenda

Allowing backyard chickens in residential neighbourhoods is back on Richmond council’s agenda next week.

While city staff are recommending only allowing chickens on lots that are larger than 2,000 square metres (half an acre), after researching backyard chickens in neighbouring municipalities, they concluded allowing them in all single-family areas would also be a “viable” option.

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Currently, a Richmond bylaw prohibits backyard chickens on any lots smaller than half an acre, even in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) but Coun. Harold Steves pointed out more than a month ago that prohibiting them in the ALR is inconsistent with the provincial “Right to Farm” Act, something city staff confirmed was correct.

There are only 188 lots in Richmond residential areas that are larger than half an acre where backyard chickens would be allowed if council decides on this restriction.

After surveying other municipalities, there was a general consensus that those who keep backyard chickens are “responsible caretakers,” providing proper living conditions and coops and treat their chickens humanely, according to the staff report.

Risks identified by Richmond city staff – abandonment, unhygienic housing conditions, more noise, pests and predators – were not a problem in Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver and Surrey.

If council decided to allow backyard chickens in all residential areas, staff recommended rules around the number of chickens – minimum two, maximum four – and limiting them to single-family areas, not multi-unit properties.

The item will be dealt with at Monday’s committee meeting.

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