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Woman wants Stephenville council to allow backyard chickens

A woman who was ordered not to keep hens in her backyard is hoping the Stephenville town council might now have a change of heart.

Tatum Ryan holds one of her five hens in this file photo from June 2013.

Tatum Ryan has put forward a 10-page document that the town’s council, now that Stephenville is going through a planning and regulations process.

It was at a council meeting on June 13, 2013, that Ryan was issued an order to remove the chickens from her property at 5 Maple St. within 14 days. Ryan appealed, but council’s decision was upheld later that summer.

Ryan had to remove the five hens, which she and her children cherished, because the current bylaws and zoning don’t permit keeping livestock on her property, which is zoned medium density residential.

She now wants to reopen the door on this issue and is asking council to either rezone, adopt a new bylaw or even do a pilot study, similar to the ongoing one taking place in Corner Brook.

Ryan said she’s the only person she knows of in Stephenville that has an interest in raising hens, but said she has a Facebook page that has several members. She said Paul Hughes, founder and president of the Calgary Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK), argues that one’s Chartered rights are infringed when they are prevented from keeping chickens. Ryan said CLUCK now has 28 chapters across the country including the Stephenville one she is part of.

She is aware of several people in Kippens who would like to keep chickens, but believes that town has regulations preventing the practice. She doesn’t understand why Kippens and Stephenville are preventing it when a much larger urban centre like St. John’s has a bylaw that permits keeping chickens.

“It’s time for Stephenville to get on board,” Ryan said.

Mayor Tom O’Brien confirmed receipt of the “backyard hen proposal” from Ryan and said council was going to give it another look now that there is a submission.

Once today’s deadline for submissions passes, O’Brien said all the suggestions will be forwarded to Avro McMillan, consultant for the town plan. When he has looked it over he will be returning to council with his suggestions, then it will go to the Department of Municipal Affairs for a review in relation to legalities.

After that there will be a public hearing with a commissioner on the document, then back to the Stephenville town council for adoption. O’Brien expects it will be well into the fall before the new plan and regulations are adopted.

Twitter: WS_FrankGale

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