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Urban Hen Regulations turned down despite mayor and deputy mayor support

Tom Hickey of Sweet Berry Farms in Black Duck Siding is seen selling eggs from his farm to Pamela Martin. He is of the belief there’s nothing wrong with Urban Hens Regulations and that towns like Stephenville should support the raising of hens.
Tom Hickey of Sweet Berry Farms in Black Duck Siding is seen selling eggs from his farm to Pamela Martin. He is of the belief there’s nothing wrong with Urban Hens Regulations and that towns like Stephenville should support the raising of hens. - Frank Gale

The Stephenville town council gave a thumb down to Urban Hen Regulations on Thursday, but it did have supporters at the council table.

Another supporter, who had no say in the matter, was Tom Hickey of Sweet Berry Farms in Black Duck Siding who was selling eggs on the side of Hansen Highway the same day.

“There’s nothing troublesome about hens, they’re easily maintained and if they’re in a coop in small numbers, you probably wouldn’t even know they were there,” he said.

Hickey said there’s little noise from them, as its roosters that crow in the morning and that they drive rodents away.

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During discussion at the council table, Mayor Tom Rose said he would like to do a pilot project for families who might like to raise four or five laying hens and, like Hickey, said hens don’t go cock-a-doodle-doo, that’s roosters.

He said everything old is new again and when it comes to raising hens that produce eggs he felt it could reduce gas emissions in a small way.

Rose said there are people who want to come to Stephenville and experience rural and country living and live in communities that are sustainable.

He said hens could provide eggs for families, children, neighbors and maybe even the food bank.

Rose said urban hens are already being permitted in many communities, including Corner Brook, Pasadena, St. John’s and even the country’s capital Ottawa and questioned why they can’t in Stephenville.

Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow was the person to put forward the Urban Hen motion not to proceed at the meeting and was quick to point out she didn’t agree with the recommendation that came from her planning and traffic committee.

She felt having the town open for business, which council is promoting, that this is the type of thing that council should be looking at.

Coun. Mike Tobin said he was not in favour of proposing hens in the community, noting back in 2013 chickens had to be removed from a property because of complaints.

He recognized some communities have proceeded with permitting them, while others have not. Tobin said the odours can be noxious and there are people who have the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome and they’ve made their thoughts known to him.

When the vote was taken not to proceed, it ended in a four in favour and two against.

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