Time for Backyard Chickens in the Tri-Cities?

Backyard Chickens Coquitlam Port Moody

At the end of August Jon and I visited the PNE with the kids. While we were there we came across the Vancooper. It’s a custom-built chicken coop for backyard chickens. The maker advertises it this way:

It’s the bylaw-compliant, pest-defieant, not-too-giant, and exceptionally pliant coop for the self-reliant and epicurious client.

I was smitten. Unfortunately for me, however, unlike the City of Vancouver, the municipalities here in the Tri-Cities don’t allow backyard chickens. This begs the question – if Vancouver can do it, why can’t we?

I had a brief chat with Port Moody Councillor Diana Dilworth and Coquitlam Councillor Selina Robinson. Both reported that backyard chickens are not currently allowed in their cities. They also reported that as of right now, there’s no movement to change that. However, if enough local residents started asking for them, it’s possible that the bylaws could be changed. A brief conversation with local blogger Laura Thomas suggests that the situation is the same in the City of Port Coquitlam.

The City of Vancouver changed its bylaws to allow backyard chickens in 2010. They have a number of rules to ensure that the chickens are safe, and that they don’t become a nuisance. Here are some of the basic rules around owning chickens in that city:

  • You may own up to four hens, four months or older, per lot
  • No roosters are allowed
  • Other livestock and fowl, such as ducks, turkeys and goats, are not allowed
  • You may not sell the eggs, meat or manure for commercial purposes
  • You may not slaughter hens in your backyard

There are also some rules around the minimum amount of space for each chicken, and so on.

The City of Vancouver is not the only local municipality that allows backyard chickens. We have a friend who has backyard chickens in New Westminster, where they’ve been legal for decades. In Surrey they’re allowed on lots that are at least one acre in size. And in North Vancouver, a movement is afoot to allow the birds.

The reasons that people keep backyard chickens are pretty much what you would expect – they want the eggs, they want to promote food security, and they enjoy them. While it’s certainly the case that steps need to be taken to ensure that the chickens don’t attract pests, and that they’re housed properly, this is the same as for any other pet. In the City of Vancouver, in just under two years 74 chicken owners registered, and there were zero complaints. Between the fact that most people carefully consider the decision to have chickens, and the city’s bylaws, the system has been working well.

Here in the Tri-Cities there certainly are people who are already keeping chickens. As long as no one complains, everything is more or less okay. However, if any neighbours aren’t happy, the illegal chickens can be seized. Any time and money you’ve invested in creating a coop, feeding them and so on is lost. This obviously dissuades many people who would otherwise like to keep the birds.

If backyard chickens are working well in other municipalities, perhaps it’s time to consider them here in the Tri-Cities. It would take a committed group of local citizens to advocate for the change. If the will exists, then I believe that local municipalities would eventually follow suit.

What do you think? Would you consider backyard chickens? Have you had experiences – good or bad – with urban hens? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

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  1. We got an email from a reader:

    Myself and others are working towards the same goal in Maple Ridge. I’ve set up a basic site http://www.righttoeggs.com to promote the issue. Let me know if there is anyway we can help each other achieve he same goal (albeit in different cities).

    • Veronica Ren says:

      Hello Amber, we were just told that no chickens are allowed in Coquitlam! Now we have to get rid of our birds within a time frame! What a shame! We are all very sad. I wonder if there is a site like this for Coqitlam.

      • I think we just need someone to start a petition or campaign. If you do it, we would be willing to publicize it.

  2. Zach Lundrie says:

    Great article.
    There are a million reasons why keeping hens (and other small livestock) should be allowed in the Metro Vancouver municipalities- Some of which are for food quality and access, education and environmental stewardship.
    I think that with the number of issues present in the big agriculture industry (erosion, pollution, deforestation, pesticide contamination etc) it is only natural (and normal!) that citizens should be able and empowered to take responsibility for some of their food needs. Past generations have.
    In 100 years I predict that we will look back at this generation with complete bafflement that there were so many barriers put up for people wanting to grow their own food because, it will be a necessity.
    Lets start now people !

  3. Trish Raue says:

    I am interested in this idea. Many communities around this area allow this. What a great way to be responsible, independent citizens teaching our children about growing our own food and good stewardship practices. Is there a petition going on this issue??

  4. I am on board. Need to start a movement; a good 2013 goal. I will get on it.

  5. I have been thinking about backyard chickens and how I’d like to have some of my own. I’d like to take a part in making it a possibility for people who live in the tri-cities. Please let me know if there is any way that I can help make it happen.

  6. Yes we need to change the rules against owning backyard chickens in the Tricities! They allow it in Vancouver where they have lots the size of a postage stamp and yet in Coquitlam with my 7000 sq ft lot i cant? Its just not fair, i drove 40 min to 244th st in Maple Ridge today just to buy my eggs and i also got to show my son that these beautiful creatures need to roam freely instead of cramed into crates no bigger than an Ipad so they can force feed the chickens the steroid and hormones to keep up the demand.
    We should start a petition!

  7. Byron Vallis says:

    I agree that it is about time tri-cities bylaws were updated to allow the responsible keeping of backyard hens.
    In Coquitlam, I have decided to being this process. I am trying to find supporters and residents willing to help, and I would like to compile a bylaw amendment proposal to present to Coquitlam City Council, similarly to what was successfully done in North Vancouver.

    Those interested can check our the facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/CLUCKCoquitlam

  8. Sherrie Bremner says:

    I think that having backyard chickens is a great idea. Not only is it great that you have your own fresh eggs but they are little composters eating alot of your food scraps and then providing you with good natural fertalizer for your veggie gardens.

  9. Sherrie Bremner says:

    Since I last posted I had acquired some hens. I love them a lot! They have their own personalities and recognize me and seem to call me to let them out. They happily scratch and feed and fertilize my perennial garden. However my love for these birds has just come to an end because the city has given me two weeks to find them a new home. My love for my girls was not for the eggs as I am allergic to them and I happily shared the eggs with my neighbors and friends. They really were a delight to watch running in the yard.