The folks behind the Fernie Food Action Strategy have formally asked the City of Fernie to consider allowing backyard, urban hens.
Dawn Deydey of Wildsight described backyard hens are “one recommendation that has continued to find community support,” in a report to the City of Fernie Committee of the Whole on Dec. 20 2021.
The Fernie Food Action Strategy gathered public input in September last year to inform a series of recommendations to the City of Fernie in April this year, including backyard hens (along with encouraging growing food rather than laws, rainwater collection, and local commercial agriculture).
The recommendations made were not picked up at the time.
At the Dec. 20 2021 Committee of the Whole, Deydey argued that allowing backyard hens was an opportunity for the city to align with its own Official Community Plan by supporting local production and food security.
In her presentation, she pointed to neighbouring municipalities Elkford and Sparwood which adopted amended bylaws to allow urban hens in 2021, and referenced the 25 municipalities throughout B.C. that already have bylaws in place such as Revelstoke, Kamloops and Squamish.
“The research that was done was based on what is happening in other communities,” she said.
“You can see there are examples of other communities that are able to manage wildlife attractants and ensure the safety of our wildlife while allowing backyard hens.”
Deydey noted that given Fernie already allows urban hens in West Fernie, expanding the scope of the existing bylaws wouldn’t constitute a huge change for the city, especially given the existing bylaws allowing hens already specify the need to deter bears, provide adequate shelter, and store feed safely.
Mayor Ange Qualizza asked for staff to bring a report before council on the ins and outs of allowing hens within the community, which will come back at a later date. Deydey said that was an exciting step forward for their work into food security.
Information on the Fernie Food Action Strategy can be found at wildsight.ca/foodaction.
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