Cobourg Confirms Urban Status

At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on June 20,  Aliyyah Phady made a delegation to Council asking that she be allowed to continue keeping 3 Miniature Bantam chickens in her back yard at 304 Tweed Street despite the Town’s By-Laws prohibiting this.  She said the 7 year old chickens had only a little time left to live.  Staff has already extended the time to comply by 30 days.  Council asked staff to report and provide options and this was done at the CoW meeting on July 11.  Option 1 was to give a further extension, Option 2 was to change the By-Law to allow chickens and Option 3 was the status quo.  Also at the same July 11 CoW meeting was a motion from the Sustainability & Climate Emergency Advisory Committee that recommended that Council review By-laws that provide barriers to “Urban Agriculture activities which include growing, processing, distributing or selling”.

Given that unlike nearby municipalities, Cobourg is primarily Urban, Council was not in a hurry to approve keeping chickens in a back yard nor to immediately ask Staff to look at Urban Agriculture. Mayor Henderson was particularly concerned with the likelihood of a rat infestation.  However, Councillor Darling moved that a 90 day extension (Option 1) be granted but that after that, the existing by-Laws prohibiting back yard chickens be enforced.  His motion carried.

When Council came to consider the motion from the Sustainability & Climate Emergency Advisory Committee that wanted Cobourg to open up to Urban Agriculture, Brent Larmer commented that (specifically) selling from a backyard was currently not allowed. However, Council was concerned with the considerable staff work involved in reviewing all By-Laws so Brian Darling moved that it be deferred to the new year for the new council and that it be tracked in unfinished business with no target date.

As a footnote, this is not the first time this subject has come up.  On August 2, 2013, Dominik Wisniewski at Northumberland News reported that 2 residents were told that although growing things was OK, keeping chickens was not.  See the original news report here.


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21 July 2022 6:28 pm

Yes, we need to be careful about loopholes. As in acclaimed Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors. If you see an acclamation about to happen, run!
Acclamation is the ultimate undemocratic activity and should be banned.
We may not be able to have chicken runs in Cobourg, but at least we can
have folks running for office.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Eastender
22 July 2022 3:39 pm

And if nobody new runs?

Reply to  Bill Thompson
22 July 2022 5:21 pm

Then that position ought to remain vacant until a) a new election is held, or b) until end of term.

Beach walker
18 July 2022 10:48 am

I am ten minutes outside Cobourg. I have 4 chickens. I have no rats. I have fresh eggs every day and fertilizer for my vegetable garden, along with the ticks and mosquitos getting eaten! Get with the program Cobourg! I know of chicken owners who have acquired doctors notes for “therapy animals” and then municipalities cannot deny them.

Reply to  Beach walker
18 July 2022 7:17 pm

Wow, I would love to have a fresh egg one day

Reply to  Beach walker
19 July 2022 7:56 am

We need to be careful of the “therapy animal” loop-hole. I seem to recall somebody trying to get their therapy pony on an airplane. But having a small number of chickens in your backyard should not really be a problem. Some people will not like it but there will always be somebody to oppose anything. There are likely people who do not like pools in back yards or car repairs in a driveway, etc. Why not pass a by-law allowing chickens with restrictions on the number and how they are housed?

Reply to  Kevin
19 July 2022 8:58 am

Because the by-law will be challenged again? Next year it will be request for the therapy pony,and the year after,perhaps a donkey and 2 roosters.The problem is the fact that everyone believes they have a legimate reason for whatever they reguest

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
19 July 2022 2:47 pm

everyone believes they have a legimate(sic) reason for whatever they reguest:(sic)

Of course, but the request prevails unless there is a legitimate reason to deny. Fantasizing that a therapy pony will be next, then donkey, etc. is without substantial merit.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
19 July 2022 6:42 pm

The legitimate reason to deny is the current bylaw.

Reply to  Kevin
20 July 2022 6:56 am

This is what other municipalities have. I had to build my coop to certain specifications and I am allowed up to 7 birds. I can also expect a visit from an inspector at any time. I informed my neighbours of my decision to keep chickens and they are fully supportive.

17 July 2022 4:14 pm

Wait a minute. By-law 85-2003? There was at least one well-informed delegation to Town Council on backyard chickens since then (e.g. former residents on Victoria Street) and it seems the topic became a non-issue. Good on Council to defer for a while. And the agricultural use definition in the by-law described in the staff report seems a bit fuzzy. It says ‘may include’ not ‘includes’ or ‘shall include’ with regard to chickens. So, maybe a few backyard chickens are technically not an agriculture use rather more a personal food security matter. And the hens are old, let them be pets now in their old age. Chickens are clean birds. What would attract rats? Too often the image of industrial chicken production is what we see.

Reply to  MiriamM
18 July 2022 12:48 am

“The reasons rats and mice literally smell out chicken coops is nothing to do with chickens themselves. It’s all to do with the single thing that drives them most – food.”

Ken Strauss
17 July 2022 2:16 pm

The rapid growth of our nuisance racoon population due to the county’s green waste collection program is not seen as a problem. Now, Mayor Henderson who approved the expensive green box program, is concerned about rats. Curious!

Reply to  Ken Strauss
18 July 2022 8:15 am

Please explain why green waste collection is causing a problem. Biofuel production from green waste is a well established and sucessful process in Europe. Why is it such a challenge to move forward with more sustainable practices here? Perhaps it is still too easy to just throw everything over the fence.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ursula
18 July 2022 9:08 am

Ursula, green waste collection is a problem because many, particularly those with early morning waste pickup, put their containers out the night before. Racoons have little trouble opening the green boxes and feasting.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
18 July 2022 9:21 am

That can be remedied by the use of bungee cords or some other strap. Putting green waste in the garbage stream is not a solution as the racoons have an even easier time ripping open the bags.

17 July 2022 1:19 pm

Would be nice if all council could just say no. Why are one or rwo people given the opportunity to actually have the bylaw changed. Last i looked around 20k people lived here.As far as rats go…people now have them as pets. Maybe we should be accomodating heated bacyard bunkies for pet rats? People love their pet rats. Surely they too also have a right to be heard?

Pete M
Reply to  Informed
18 July 2022 6:58 am

Because even though NO is a two letter word, it is the hardest word to say in society today.
If you say No people look down on you as some negative person who is trying impede society.

Plus we have a generation or two who went thru school never being told no. And now as adults believe no one, no democratically elected council can say no them.