Orangeville public speaks about new animal bylaw

March 7, 2024   ·   3 Comments


Orangeville’s backyard hen coop program has been incorporated into the town’s new animal control bylaw.

Carrie Cunningham, the town’s bylaw and property standards officer, made that recommendation to council during a public meeting on March 6 to get feedback on Orangeville’s new Animal Control Bylaw.

The town’s Animal Control Bylaw was put on the books in 2000. It was amended in 2020 to allow residents to have backyard hens over a three-year pilot program.

Residents were permitted three hens on a residential lot provided requirements were met and the $110 annual fee was paid.

Orangeville issued three permits in 2021, five the following year, and two more last year.

A single complaint was recorded in the first year regarding a registered hen coop. Another was written up in 2022 about an unregistered coop.

Cunningham said the pilot program showed there was only minimal interest among residents. Due to the administration costs of the hen coop program, she said it should be incorporated into the proposed new Animal Control Bylaw.

The proposed new bylaw has been changed to provide clarity and consistency with other bylaws. It prohibits the disposal or burying of an animal on town land. It requires that, unless otherwise permitted, nobody keeping an animal other than a service animal, shall allow the animal to be in town facilities.

The proposed new bylaw amends the expiry of a dog license from Dec. 31 to April 30 each year, and it limits the number of cats being kept on a property or dwelling to four.

Owners shall ensure that a cat has a microchip, identification tag, or similar means of identification affixed to it with the current contact information of the owner.

The new rules also include regulations suggested for leash-free dog parks. And there are guidelines for the treatment of wildlife.

No person shall feed wildlife on their property, except a person feeding songbirds, unless the food is placed in a bird feeding device on private property. Any food spilled from the bird-feeding device is removed in a timely manner such that it does not attract other wildlife, and the bird-feeding device is kept clean and in good working order.

No person shall permit a feeding device or any attractants to be left outside on any property, and a person may feed songbirds on their property provided it does not create a nuisance.

David Vahey, an Orangeville resident, said there was little in the new bylaw that pertains to service animals.

“Having service animals in the bylaw means consulting families with service animals, trainers in the community, and accredited organizations,” he said. “We are the ones who bring the service animals into the community.”

Vahey said the new bylaw must develop a guideline or decision hierarchy for service dogs that describes to municipal bylaw enforcement staff how it differs from a regular dog.

“Separating a service dog from owner risks a potential human rights complaint,” he said. “Especially in the case of seizures or impoundment due to being treated as being at large.”

There have been at least five recorded incidents in the last seven years regarding service dogs on Orangeville Transit buses, he said.

“We’ve learned a lesson from this that, moving forward, it’s less likely that something like that is going to happen,” he said about service dogs being mistaken for regular canines.

Meanwhile, Max Waters, a resident of Orangeville, wrote a letter to council in support of the bylaw’s provisions for allowing backyard coops.

“The program has allowed my children to actively engage in collecting eggs, providing them with invaluable lessons in husbandry and animal care,” he said in his letter to council.

“Witnessing the entire food cycle firsthand has proven to be an educational and enriching experience for them.”

He said a coop has been a cost-effective solution to the current rising costs of groceries and would prove to be a means to offset food insecurity in the community.

“The positive impact it has had on our lives is immeasurable,” he said. “I believe that by passing this program into the Animal Control Bylaw, the current council has the opportunity to positively influence more families in our community.

“In light of potential food insecurity challenges that may affect more families, I strongly encourage the council to pass the hen pilot program into the Animal Control Bylaw. This action will not only ensure the program’s continuity but also encourage more families to participate, fostering a sense of self-sufficiency and community resilience.”

Resident Bryan Smith said in a letter to council that some bird populations have declined by more than 90 per cent.

“Cats, both pet and feral, cause approximately 200-million bird deaths a year,” Smith said. “We have a responsibility to mitigate loss and protect our birds as they are a key part of a healthy environment.”

Dogs are not allowed to roam within the municipality, and cats should not be roaming, either, he said.

Greg Verner also had concerns about references to cats in the proposed bylaw. He said there are six pages with stipulations about keeping dogs, two pages about hens and roosters, but one item about cats.

“In this day of inclusion, equality, that is a real slam against dog owners,” he said.

A cat owner doesn’t need to pick up the animal’s feces or have the pet licensed.

“I should’ve got a cat,” he said.

Matthew Smith said the proposed new rules prohibit feeding hummingbirds. And he asked if a garden water feature is considered a feeding device for wildlife.

Town staff will report back to council about public feedback gleaned from the meeting about the proposed legislation.

Readers Comments (3)

  1. Dakota Roswell says:

    The hen coop program also needs to be more defiant on laws regarding town houses. We have been looking into purchasing and maintaining a hen coop ourselves but we live in a residential town house. Therefore, we don’t know if the same legislation would apply. I.e the ability to have 3. Of course coop standards would still apply.

  2. Nicole Hunt says:

    We destroy the land. We destroy everything. I’m feeding the birds. Hummingbirds are pollinators. We need to preserve them

  3. Nancy rae says:

    I agree we should not be feeding birds or the wildlife. Let them be wild and feed off the land as it should be.


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