Backyard chickens may soon come to Saugeen Shores
by Sandy Lindsay

October 26, 2016

Town Council

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If Katherine Martinko has her way, there may soon be chickens in the backyards of Saugeen Shores.

Martinko came before Town Council on Monday, October 25th, asking that Council approve a motion to allow people to raise chickens for personal use within the 'urban settlement'.

According to Martinko, she has wanted backyard chickens for many years to access eggs as part of the buy local produce movement.  I haven't bought supermarket eggs for years after learning about the horrific conditions in which hens are kept.  Instead, I buy local eggs from farmers around Bruce County but having our own source of eggs would be ideal."

Martinko explained that eggs that are fresh have far more nutrients than those that are 'store bought' and experts say that they have double the omega3s, four times vitamin D and seven times more beta-carotene.

"Chickens have value that goes beyond their eggs," said Martinko. "Their waste is a veritable gold mine of nutrients rich in nitrogen and can be layered in a compost bin with leaves and will break down into compost for a vegetable garden or lawn.  They also do all sorts of valuable tasks such as eating leftover household food scraps, controlling pests by eating all kinds of insects that help control the use of chemical treatments.  They also turn up the soil for planting or reseeding."

She added that breeds are quiet if there is no rooster present but their clucking throughout the day has been said to therapeutic for children with autism and the elderly with dementia.

"They also go to bed with the sun," said Martinko, "which means no nighttime noise.  They event have personality and can differentiate over 100 animal and human faces and love to play and they dream."

Attitudes toward urban chicken  are changing pointed out Martinko.  Currently, hens are allowed in Guelph, Niagara Falls, Kingston, Moncton, Surrey B.C., Red Deer, Cornerbook, Kelowna, Victoria, Whitehorse and others and even more common in the U.S.

"With Saugeen Shores being a rural, agriculturally minded community, backyard chickens would be a perfect fit," said Martinko.

A recommendation was brought to council to ask staff to draft a By-law accordingly:

'Whereas there is a movement throughout urban municipalities in Canada to allow for the keeping of poultry in urban environments to increase food sustainability;

And Whereas some families in the Town of Saugeen Shores have expressed an interest in raising poultry for egg production;

Now Therefore the Council of the Town of Saugeen Shores directs municipal staff to draft a report and by-law for the Committee of Whole’s consideration that would allow a limited number of poultry to be raised on a residential lot for the production of eggs for personal use, provided the lot size allows for appropriate space for raising poultry in a safe and proper manner that avoids creating a nuisance in a residential setting.'

Councilor John Rich, who brought the motion forward, said that he would like the motion supporteda nd that staff could look at various By-laws in places such as Kingston and other cities and craft a By-law that would be unique to Saugeen Shores to allow people to ".. do on their land what they wish to do while not creating a nuisance to their neighbours."

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Katherine Martinko

Councilor Dave Myette said that his family in Saugeen Township also keeps hens for their eggs.  "There are some things to keep in mind," he pointed out, "such as predator proof cages and restricting to hens and no roosters and I will be supporting this." 

Councilor Mike Myatt said he has had constituents approach him who do not support keeping chickens.  "There have been concerns raised about food, water supply and the general thought that keeping chickens in an urban area ... I've heard the other side and I haven't been convinced that this should be in an urban setting.  Tonight I can't support this based on feedback taht I've received from the community."

Vice Deputy Mayor Diane Huber said that she has been aware of people keeping chickens in a backyard in a well fenced area.  "The chickens were not the issue, it was the rooster that created problems.  There have been chicken activities in town already so I am looking forward to staff report.  Animals that are fenced and controlled  like that in an urban centre is better than dogs and cats that roam everywhere."

Councilor Cheryl Grace researched the subject and brought forward a report from the U.S. that included several reports about keeping chicken feed in sealed containers to avoid rats and that she was concerned about coyotes but learned that they are of little threat to chickens.

Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that he doubted there would be "chickens running around town".  It's already happening and by having a By-law it would allow the town to regulate the situation and allow people to use their property more freely but in a way that has to be ok with their neighbours.  "We an apply controls if we recognize it and legitimize it."

The motion was carried with only Councilor Myatt opposing.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016