Council evaluates rules for backyard hens

December 21, 2023   ·   0 Comments


Orangeville will revisit its policy that governs backyard hen coops within the municipality.

Council adopted a hen permit bylaw in November 2020 to provide residents with the ability to keep no more than three hens on a residential lot containing a single detached or semi-detached dwelling.

The three-year trial program began Jan. 1, 2021, and interested residents were required to register with the town, meet the requirements set out in the bylaw, and pay an annual fee of $110.

Council learned during its Dec. 11 regular meeting that staff are in the process of drafting a comprehensive Animal Control By-law which incorporates regulations for hens. As part of the drafting process, a comprehensive review of applicable legislation and various animal control bylaws of surrounding municipalities has been completed.

Councillor Joe Andrews said there was much discussion in council’s previous term about allowing backyard hens inside the municipality.

“For those of us who recall, I thought for sure we were going to have significant uptake,” he said. “And we’ve had two people. Two permits.”

That low level of interest doesn’t justify the amount of time required for municipal staff to provide education to ensure coops are up to standard.

The report accompanying the draft bylaw will include an evaluation of the hen registration trial program.

As the hen registration trial program expires Dec. 31, staff recommend that the hen permit bylaw be amended to extend the two current permits until May 31, 2024.

New permits will not be issued.

This extension to May will allow sufficient time for council to review the draft bylaw and staff’s evaluation of the hen registration trial program, as well as receive feedback from the public.

“For all the effort that we went through as a council, I thought for sure we were going to get significant uptake and we’ve got virtually none,” Andrews said.

Chris Moore, who was the town’s acting general manager of corporate services before Antonietta Minichillo took the job, agreed that much work was put into the venture.

“What we’re proposing in terms of continuing those permits until May of next year and then including it in the animal control bylaw just makes a lot of good sense,” Moore said.

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