Backyard hen program accepting applications


The City of Airdrie is looking for people to participate in a backyard hen pilot project beginning in April 2018. According to Gail Gibreau, senior planner at the City, people will need to meet a number of criteria before being approved for the pilot project.

“We’ll have 20 households that will be testing out our guidelines over the period of 18 months, starting in April of next year,” she said. “There are a number of criteria in terms of selection.”

To be considered, residences must have a lot with a minimum area of 400 square metres (4,305 square feet). Gibreau said some properties slightly under this lot size might be considered for the pilot project as long as the impact on neighbours is deemed to be minimal. Multi-family lots are not eligible to participate at this time.

“We have guidelines regarding best management practices where people will be required to have the hens inside their hen house between 10 p.m. and 7 in the morning,” Gibreau said. “They’ll be required to remove waste on a regular basis to minimize any kind of odour nuisance that may come from it.

“We’ll be requiring all participants to participate in a Hens 101 course we’ll be offering in January of next year, where people will get a good idea of what’s required of a urban hen keeper, just so that they’re fully armed with the knowledge of expectation of the workload required.”

Gibreau said some people may decide to bow out of the pilot project after taking the Hens 101 course, feeling it will be too much work for them. Residents who decide to continue will be allowed to have a minimum of two hens and a maximum of four. Roosters are not allowed to be part of the project and hens must be more than four months old, according to Gibreau.

The City’s urban agriculture program was first proposed in 2014 and since then a community orchard planted at the Plainsman Arena has flourished. However, the backyard hen component was put on hold for a few years after the staff member in charge fell ill, according to Gibeau.

The City is still finalizing how the pilot project will be monitored and evaluated. Gibreau said participants can expect a site inspection of their hen house and run prior to the introduction of chickens and again at the end of the 18 months. She said neighbours will also be asked to weigh-in with their feedback.

“Throughout the 18 months we’re looking at doing some optional site inspections just to get a good feeling from both the participants and the adjacent landowners as to how well the guidelines are working,” she said. “The intent is to really test out these guidelines and provide (City) council with a good evaluation of the program so we can make a decision moving forward.”

Anyone wishing to participate in the pilot project, can download the application form from the City’s website at

The website also includes a full list of the project guidelines and links to some resources for fledgling hen keepers.

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