A flock of chickens eating in a yard

Petawawa residents advocating for bylaw
amendment to allow backyard chickens

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday September 3, 2020

Backyard chicken advocates Laura Hanek and Jordan Rabishaw approached the Town of Petawawa with the hopes of convincing them to expand their bylaws regarding poultry.

The two had been invited to explain the benefits of owning backyard chickens to council during an unprecedented meeting on Aug. 17. The crowd of supporters was so large that the session had to be held at the Petawawa Civic Centre instead of council chambers.

Backyard chickens are currently allowed where the property is zoned agricultural-rural. But most homes that fall within town boundaries are not permitted to host a coop.

“I’m not advocating that every person in a condo or apartment complex have a chicken in the parking lot,” said Rabishaw, “I don’t think that is feasible. But I do think that if you own your property and you have delineated boundaries, you should be able to keep chickens in your backyard.”

There are benefits to raising a flock.

Hens help clean the yard by eating grass and insects. They create excellent fertilizer and act as a natural organic waste disposal, eating most food scraps. Some people say that chickens make great pets as they can be gentle and friendly when raised with a loving hand. And, of course, they provide meat and eggs for their owners.

“There is a big disconnect with people and their food currently,” said Rabishaw. “There is a new yearning to find out where your food comes from,” he added, noting many people have a desire to take on the responsibilities of animal husbandry.

Currently, there are about 11 major cities that allow backyard chicken, which include Brampton, Niagara Falls, and Kingston, Ont.

If the couple’s pleas are answered, the bylaw in Petawawa would be changed to allow up to six birds per residential home.

Those with chickens would have to adhere to any rules the town institutes.

Some of the councillors had apprehensions about the proposition and worried whether or not keeping chickens would be a nuisance for neighbours.

“With chicken bedding, as long as it is kept dry, it won’t smell, and with noise, if there is no rooster, there is no problem,” said Hanek.

The proposal ultimately peaked council’s interest, but if they were to move forward, they would want to try it as a pilot project.

There is no timeline set regarding how long it will take to formulate a plan.

For those interested in owning hens, there is a petition on change.org to amend the Petawawa bylaw governing backyard chickens. By Aug. 17, there were 1,187 signatures.

To learn more about backyard chickens, please join the Petawawa Backyard Chickens on Facebook.