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The issue of urban hens’ regulations came to the table at last Thursday’s Stephenville town council meeting and, once again, was turned down.
It’s not the first time this issue hit the table and despite not getting a passing grade this time, it likely won’t be the last.
Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow, chair of the development and planning committee, was quick to point out she didn’t agree with the committee’s recommendations not to proceed with the proposed regulations.
She felt having the town being open for business, this is the type of thing that council should be looking at.
Mayor Tom Rose had an even more impassioned speech in the issue, saying everything that is old is new again and when it comes to raising hens that produce eggs he felt it could reduce gas emissions, albeit in a small way.
He said the point is there are people who want to come to Stephenville and experience rural and country living and live in communities that are sustainable.
Rose said he would like to do a pilot project for families who might like to raise four or five laying hens and wanted to make a clarification that hens don’t go cock-a-doodle-do. It’s roosters who crow.
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, so why not in Stephenville?
On the opposing side, Coun. Mike Tobin said he was not in favour of allowing hens in the community, noting in the past they had to be removed from the older part of town because of complaints.
He said some communities permit them, while others do not. He said the odours can be noxious and there are people who have the Nimby (not in my backyard) syndrome.
Rose argued that four laying hens would not leave any more smell that someone having a few dogs.
Tom Hickey, who owns a small farm in Black Duck Siding with 93 hens, said hens are easily maintained, that they don’t fly much at all, are not noisy and keep rodents away.
He can’t see where having four of them on a property, especially with a coop, would pose any problems.
With the interest of four to five people in the town and support from several council members, it’s likely this issue will hit the council table again in the future. People are interested in raising hens, even in an urban setting, and its not likely going away any time soon.