Langley’s Giesbrecht siblings

Langley’s Giesbrecht siblings

Urban chicken coops proposed for Township

Brookswood teen leads campaign to have Township endorse backyard hen houses similar to those permitted in Vancouver

A campaign to allow Vancouver-style urban chicken coops in Langley Township backyards will come before council next month.

It’s the idea of Emma Giesbrecht and the Otter Flying Feathers 4H Club, who  wanted 30 minutes to make their case for a permit-based process that would allow 4-H members who don’t live on farms to raise chickens and rabbits at their homes.

Instead, council voted to give Giesbrecht and the club 10 minutes on June 10 at the afternoon council meeting and asked them to provide more information about the proposal before the presentation.

Giesbrecht, a 13-year-old Brookswood resident who joined 4-H four years ago, has set up a Facebook page, “Chickens for Langley, BC” that calls for allowing backyard chicken coops in residential areas like the cities of Vancouver, Seattle and New York.

“Chickens make fantastic pets, are easy to care for, and have great personalities,” the page states.

“They are quieter than dogs. They provide great benefits like organic eggs for your kitchen, and organic fertilizer…”

Because Giesbrecht and her siblings live in a residential area of Brookswood they must keep their chickens at a South Langley farm.

The City of Vancouver approved urban chicken coops in residential backyards in 2010.

During the debate that preceded the decision, opponents worried about everything from noise to an alleged risk of bird flu and a possible rise in predators.

The Vancouver Humane Society and BCSPCA were concerned the coops were a fad that would lead to neglect of the birds once interest faded.

Since then, about 100 Vancouver households have obtained permits to raise chickens.

The City of Vancouver Animal Control Bylaw limits the number of birds in a backyard to four hens, no roosters, four months or older.

It sets out the minimum size for coops and requires owners to “maintain each hen enclosure in good repair and sanitary condition, and free from vermin and obnoxious smells and substances.”

Coops have to be kept locked from sunset to sunrise and owners must “remove leftover feed, trash, and manure in a timely manner … store manure within a fully enclosed structure, and store no more than three cubic feet of manure at a time.”

Ducks, turkeys, and other fowl or livestock are not allowed.

Eggs, meat, and manure cannot be sold for commercial purposes. Backyard slaughtering is not allowed.

Registration of birds is free and it can be done online.

— with files from Kurt Langmann, the Aldergrove Star