Thursday, March 13, 2008

Waterloo Hen Association by-law proposal

There is a new local citizen's group called the Waterloo Hen Association, which has formed to create a new City of Waterloo by-law allowing small-scale chicken raising in the city. The group sees many examples in other cities, including Victoria BC, London ON, and Niagara Falls ON, where city chickens are encouraged and offer a positive contribution to the growing need for local initiatives around food security. A copy of their proposal is attached here - if you wish to support the group, or find out more, contact:

Facebook: Waterloo Hen Association
Phone 519.578.2416 or email

Small-Scale Urban Chicken-Raising

By-Law Proposal for the City of Waterloo

Submitted by the Waterloo Hen Association, March 2008


• To create a new City of Waterloo by-law that would encourage and regulate small-scale
chicken-raising within the city.

Why keep chickens in an urban area?

• Chickens are productive . they provide eggs for personal consumption and fertilizer for gardens
• Chicken-raising is a fun and educational hobby
• Chicken-raising is an easy and accessible way for average people to contribute to local food security
• As food prices go up, people are looking for affordable ways to feed themselves

Why keep chickens in the City of Waterloo?

• Most citizens in Waterloo are looking for tangible ways to contribute to environmental
sustainability on a local, neighbourhood level
• Through the increasing number of community gardens in Waterloo, local food production
is already happening throughout the city . small-scale chicken raising can be another
concrete step toward local food security
• Waterloo identifies itself as an .environment first. community in which environmental
matters are assessed at the forefront of all activities
• .There is a strong belief that the path towards global environmental improvement begins
with local-level initiatives. (Waterloo.s Environmental Strategic Plan, p. 1)

What resources are available?

• Models from other cities: e.g. the City of Portland holds an annual .Tour de Coops. as a
way of educating Portland citizens about urban chicken-keeping . check out

• Media exposure: e.g. USA Today article at
• Urban chicken groups: e.g. .The City Chicken.

• Organizations: e.g. Hen Keepers Association at
• Urban chicken advocates: e.g.
• Books: e.g. Keep Chicken! Tending small flocks in cities, suburbs, and other spaces by
Barbara Kilarski (available at Waterloo Public Library)
• Local chicken farmers
• Waterloo residents who still have memories of when chickens were raised in the city
What are the concerns?

Regarding noise: Laying hens sometimes make .clucking. sounds which many find
enjoyable . noise only becomes an issue when there are more than 15 or 20 hens, or
when a rooster is introduced into the mix
Regarding mess: Chickens are relatively easy to care for. By regularly maintaining the
chicken coop, mess can be kept to a minimum.
Regarding disease: Proper disposal and/or composting of chicken feces prevents the
spread of disease.
• By-laws can be written to ensure a simple, common set of standards for the safe and
sustainable keeping of poultry in an urban area

Some examples of urban chicken coops (photos not included here)

What are some examples of by-laws in other cities?

Niagara Falls, ON

No owner shall allow or permit his or her chicken to be at large. Roosters are not permitted
within the Urban Boundary. The total number of chickens permitted within the Urban Boundary
shall be as follows: (a) On and after July 15, 2002 - maximum 20 chickens; (b) On and after July 15, 2005 - maximum 10 chickens. All chicken coops shall be located only in the rear yard and
must fully enclose the chickens and prevent them from escaping. The chicken coop shall be
designed and constructed to ensure proper ventilation and sufficient space for the chickens and
maintained in accordance with good animal husbandry practices and shall keep all vermin out.
All dead chickens must be disposed of immediately and in any event, within 24 hours. There
must be hygienic storage of and prompt removal of chicken feces. The chicken’s food supply
must be protected against vermin.

Victoria, BC

Farm Animals are prohibited with the exception of chickens, ducks & geese. These fowl can
only be kept as pets or for personal egg consumption. Eggs cannot be sold for any reason.
Excessive numbers of fowl will bring into question intended use. Roosters are prohibited.

London, ON

Class 2 animals (chickens) shall be kept in a building, structure, yard, coop, pen or run. Every such building as required under section 6.3 of this by-law (other than a dwelling), structure, coop, pen or run in which any such animal, bird or fowl is confined, kept or allowed to run, shall be no less than 15 metres (49.2 feet) from any school, church, public hall, or store, dwelling or
premises used for human habitation or occupancy other than premises occupied exclusively by the owner or keeper of such animals, birds or fowl or members of his immediate family..All refuse resulting from the keeping of Class 2 animals (chickens) shall be kept in substantial air-tight containers until it is removed from the premises or dug into the earth in such a manner as to prevent odours arising therefrom. All feed or other animal food shall be kept in rodent-proof containers.

Portland, OR

A person keeping a total of three or fewer chickens, ducks, doves, pigeons, pygmy goats or
rabbits shall not be required to obtain a specified animal facility permit. If the Director
determines that the keeper is allowing such animals to roam at large, or is not keeping such
animals in a clean and sanitary condition, free of vermin, obnoxious smells and substances, then
the person shall be required to apply for a facility permit to keep such animals at the site.. It is
unlawful for any person to harbor, keep, possess, breed, or deal in roosters in the City of

Denver, CO

It shall be unlawful for any person to keep, maintain, possess or harbor on any property within
the city any livestock or fowl such as, but not limited to, horses, mules, donkeys, burros, cattle,
sheep, goats, swine, chickens, geese, ducks or turkeys, unless a livestock or fowl permit therefor
has been issued by the manager. Such permit is required to be renewed annually for a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each application. A permit to keep livestock or fowl within the city shall not
be granted unless the owner or possessor provides facilities which will reasonably assure the
manager that the premises will be maintained in a sanitary condition, free from insects and
rodents, offensive odors, excessive noise, or any other conditions which constitute a public

San Francisco, CA

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to keep or feed.more than a total of four
of the following in any combination: dogs of age six months or older unless part of a dog kennel,
hares, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons,
game birds of any species, or cats..Any person, firm or corporation, keeping, feeding, or
causing to be kept or fed, or permitting to be kept or fed, on premises over which such person,
firm or corporation may have control, four or less hares, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils,
chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, pigeons, parrots of any species, game birds of any species
or wild animals of any species except those animals prohibited by Section 50 of this Code, shall
keep same in coops or enclosures that are approved by the Director of Public Health. Where the
coops or enclosures are located on the outside of or on top of any buildings, premises or
structures, the coops or enclosures shall be not less than 20 feet from any door or window of any
building used for human habitation. (article 1, section 37)

Waterloo Hen Association

Working for the advancement of small-scale urban chicken-raising

Facebook: Waterloo Hen Association
Phone 519.578.2416 or email

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