Kate McMaster with her chickens that she keeps in her South Surrey backyard.

Chickens coming home to roost in Surrey

City maps out plan for one-year pilot project allowing hens on quarter-acre lots.

Chickens are now at the top of the pecking order on urban lots in Surrey.

Surrey council has asked staff to draft a bylaw allowing up to four chickens on one-quarter-acre lots during a pilot period of one year.

The plan was initially hatched by a South Surrey woman looking to change local laws around ownership of chickens.

Kate McMaster – a South Surrey resident who keeps three hens on her property – wants the city to amend legislation allowing the farming of hens on quarter-acre lots.

Her plan was unanimously endorsed by the city’s Agriculture and Food Security Advisory Committee on June 13.

On Monday, council asked staff to put a bylaw in writing that will legalize ownership of hens on smaller urban lots. Noise will not be an issuee, because hens are quiet, and roosters will not be allowed.

Previously, chickens were only permitted on properties once acre or larger.

Mayor Dianne Watts said the plan has promise, and has the elements of where the city wants to head with respect to food production.

In fact, not long ago, the former Agriculture Advisory Committee was renamed the Agriculture and Food Security Advisory Committee with an eye to ensuring residents will always have plenty of local foods to eat.

“That was purposeful in changing the name,” Watts said Tuesday. “A lot of people don’t want the amount of herbicides and pesticides that are put onto agricultural land. So we have to look at other options, and it can’t be an all-or-nothing proposition.”

It’s just where the wishes of the public is trending, she said.

“When we look at fresh fruit, fresh produce, fresh free range eggs, all of those things,  that’s what people want,” Watts said.

McMaster agrees.

“That is where I think – and where I hope – we’re heading towards,” she said. “Food security begins in your own backyard, and that’s where I am at with this.”

 

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