Backyard chicken bylaw is under review by Sutton council

Picture of a small black and white hen perched on a fence
A backyard hen perched on her fence. Picture by Holly Mueller.
Holly Mueller - CIDI - KnowltonQC | 02-02-2021
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The Town of Sutton is considering expanding the backyard hen bylaw to include other farmyard animals.

Some citizens in the Eastern Townships raise chickens in their backyards — living in a farming community raising hens is very common and was considered acceptable on all properties. But a controversy arose in Brome Lake when a complaint was brought to council regarding a neighbour’s backyard hen house.

After further investigation, it was discovered that the common practice of building a chicken coop in a residential backyard was against the local bylaw.

The bylaw states that chickens and other farmyard animals can only be raised on properties zoned agricultural, green and/or de-constructed island.

The neighbourhood chicken dispute further influenced a petition to be circulated around Brome Lake. It asked for signatures to not only save the backyard chicken coop involved in the original dispute, but it also demanded the town to reconsider the bylaw. The petition made its way all throughout the Eastern Townships.

The bylaw regarding the raising of animals is currently under review in Brome Lake. But it caused the Town of Sutton to also reconsider their bylaws. Sutton has announced some further details.

“According to the citizens survey, nearly 80 per cent of the 119 respondents said they were in favour of keeping chickens in authorized areas,” stated Michel Lafrance, mayor of Sutton.

The Sutton council has delayed its final verdict after receiving several comments from the public regarding expanding the bylaw to include more farmyard animals.

“It should be remembered that the intention of these future provisions is mainly to provide a framework for practices that are already widely tolerated to ensure animal welfare and the maintenance of good neighbourly relations,” said Lafrance.

Here is Michel Lafrance (french audio only):