Orangeville Council signs off on new three-year backyard hen pilot project

October 22, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

You can now add chickens to the list of animals that people are allowed to keep in Orangeville. 

Orangeville Council signed off on a new multi-year pilot project on Monday (Oct. 19) that will allow up to 30 residents to keep hens on their property. Individuals interested in participating in the program, which will run for three years up until Dec. 31, 2023, will have to apply for a permit, undergo a thorough review process and ensure their property complies with a lengthy list of regulations. There will also be an annual registration fee of $110 to ensure the municipality recovers the costs associated with delivering the program. 

It’s now been almost a year since local resident Max Waters approached Orangeville Council about potentially implementing a backyard hen program in town. Having recently moved to the area, she was surprised to learn the practice was prohibited in her new community. 

At that Nov. 18, 2019 meeting, Ms. Waters presented a petition to Council, signed by more than 180 local residents, asking that the municipality consider allowing urban hens. 

“Laying hens is a great way to teach children about food. I would love to be able to have chickens in my backyard, so my daughter and I can collect eggs together, talk about where food comes from, talk about respect for animals and talk about the food chain,” Ms. Waters informed Council. 

The practice of keeping chickens as pets has boomed in Canada in recent years. Major urban centres such as Vancouver and Halifax have endorsed bylaws allowing residents to keep hens, while locally, communities such as Brampton, Guelph, Kitchener, Newmarket and Orillia have approved the practice. 

While the approval of the pilot project will be welcome news to some, there are many within the community more than a little peeved to see it move ahead. An online survey carried out by the Town saw 155 individuals provide their thoughts on the initiative. While the majority supported the formation of the pilot, some 60 percent, there were many who felt it would be detrimental to the community. Of the 40 percent to oppose the pilot, many listed issues regarding odour, noise and the spread of illness and disease as their reasons for doing so. 

Despite that opposition, Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh felt there was no harm in moving forward with the project given its relatively small scale. 

“This is a trial. We are only issuing 30 permits. Surely we are not going to get out of hand with only 30 permits. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work,” Deputy Mayor Macintosh said. 

He added, “I compare this to the burn bylaw. People are going to have fires, just like people are going to have chickens if they want to. Let’s try to regulate them.”

He added, “I’d be surprised if we (get enough interest to give out) 30 permits total, to be honest with you. That’s just my opinion. Why not go ahead and try it.”

Mayor Sandy Brown was of a similar opinion, saying he’s interested in seeing how the pilot project pans out. 

“The word ‘pilot’ being involved here is what got me on board. I think we need to measure this and take whatever information comes back through the complaint process and revisit the issue in two to three years’ time,” Mayor Brown said. 

The new bylaw explicitly states that individuals may keep no more than three hens on their property at any given time, and that all hens will be kept in a coop in the backyard of the property. For more details on the new bylaw, visit

Coun. Todd Taylor was the sole vote in opposition of the three-year pilot project, with the rest of Council voting to support it. 


Share Button

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.