News Local

Backyard chicken program spurs interest

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Laura Arpenian and her daughter Lili inside their backyard chicken coop in Vancouver Monday. Backyard chicken coops are growing in popularity and now have the backing of the Vancouver Humane Society. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

Laura Arpenian and her daughter Lili inside their backyard chicken coop in Vancouver Monday. Backyard chicken coops are growing in popularity and now have the backing of the Vancouver Humane Society. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

At least one organization, ruffled by Vancouver backyard chickens, is changing its tune nearly two years after a controversial bylaw was approved to allow the birds to take up local residence.

Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society said the city's bylaw has addressed all of the previous issues, including abandoned chickens, inhumane slaughtering and other animal welfare concerns. In the 23 months since the Vancouver animal control bylaw revision - with 74 registrants so far - the society has yet to receive a complaint on urban hens.

"They've come out with policies that would weed out anyone that aren't willing to take the matter seriously," he said.

"For example, there were initial suggestions at council that some people were suggesting they wanted to raise chickens on the balcony of their condo . thanks to the city's policy, nothing like that's going to happen."

However, those at B.C. SPCA are still flustered over the lack of an official training program for prospective chicken owners.

"There are still concerns for people to really think about. What it takes and what's involved in raising hens before they go into it and start doing it," said the society's Alyssa Stoneman.

"Hens have a long lifespan and you need to know how to feed and care for them. They can get ill . and what happens when there are predators coming into their henhouses?"

There are, however, unofficial programs for backyard hen owners, such as Backyard Chicken 101 workshops run by Daily Eggs founder Duncan Martin.

"I'm seeing another wave of people interested in it, I don't know whether they gave it a couple of years or if it's reached some critical mass . I've been getting a lot of interest this summer."

Martin also sells predator-proof coops. He's expected to hold another workshop June 19 at Strathcona Community Centre.

Surrey and New Westminster also allow backyard chickens, with restrictions, while North Vancouver is looking into revising its bylaws.