The Town of Eckville has been hard at work reviewing and updating animal-based bylaws.
The Town and Council have been working on an urban hen bylaw for a large chunk of the year.
Town Council passed third reading of the new Urban Hen Bylaw at the most recent meeting of council.
This bylaw has gone through numerous changes, including a change from its original domestic animal bylaw, to its new urban hen bylaw.
Jack Ramsden, CAO for the Town, says Town staff have worked hard to make the new bylaw user friendly.
“We don’t want to make it too difficult to comply with the bylaw,” Ramsden said.
The final draft of the bylaw allows for residents to have up to five urban hens and allows for a hen tractor.
Ramsden admits he didn’t know what a hen tractor was, but added it to the bylaw after learning more about it.
“Basically it is like a portable chicken coop, that will allow the hens to move around the yard so they can eat the dew worms in the yard,” he said.
The coop can only reside in the back yard of a residence, Ramsden says.
Three locals wrote letters to Council regarding the Urban Hen Bylaw. The comments received have been addressed in the final draft of the bylaw, according to Ramsden.
“We have done our best to ensure all comments we received have been properly addressed in this bylaw,” he said, adding the Town looked to the urban hen bylaws in Crossfields and Red Deer in building their own.
The bylaw will go into effect on Jan. 1. Ramsden says the Town wanted to give those who already have urban hens a break, in not having to pay a full licensing fee for two months.
Each residence looking to have their own urban hens will have to have their chicken coop inspected and pay a licensing fee of $50 each year.
The Town is also reviewing its cat bylaw and enforcement.
In 2020 the Town has received many calls and complaints about cats roaming at large.
Ramsden says the Town has been discussing the issue with Klassic Kennels, who acts as animal control for the Town.
“We don’t want to go too heavy handed with fines and such, but if a cat is picked up because it was wondering at large it will not be released until the owner pays their fines,” said Ramsden.
“Our bylaw does not support cat to be at large.”
He continued saying the Town will be working on further educational pieces to share with residents about the cat bylaw.