City council voted against a report recommending that backyard hen houses be permitted and regulated within Peterborough city limits.
Just three councilors were in favour of regulating and allowing city residents to keep hens on their property — councillors Dianne Therrien, Dean Pappas and Gary Baldwin were outnumbered as the rest of council voted against the urban hen houses, suggesting chickens belong on the farm — not in backyards in the city.
Deputy mayor Henry Clarke spoke against the chicken pens.
“I personally do not believe that there should be chickens within the community,” he said. “And I can’t help but note, right in the report from the Humane Society they do not support it either, as these are rural animals that should be in a rural setting.”
A staff report suggested in order to allow urban hen houses to operate in town, the city would need to spend $50,000 a year to have the Humane Society monitor the coops and Clarke said that was just too costly.
Councillor Therrien argued this decision won’t stop urban coops from operating here and believes the decision will lead to further disputes.
“People are going to continue to keep hens and you are just going to pit neighbour against neighbour and that’s not something I want to do,” said Therrien. “So I think that being proactive and registering flocks is the smart and responsible thing to do.”
Myra Hirschberg owns a hen house and was disappointed by the vote, she says last year when the situation first came up, there were many delegates who spoke in favour of the idea of allowing chickens in the city.
“We had a demonstration and there was widespread support in Peterborough for allowing backyard chickens,” said Hirschberg. “We had a petition…that was signed by 1,500 people or so and in the presentations at council last year there was just one who spoke against backyard chickens and there were many that spoke in favour of them.”
It’s believed there are close to 200 chicken coops in the city and council will deliver a final vote on the matter at council next week, if the ban carries, owners will be given a two-year grace period to keep their backyard chickens.