Chef eggstatic over hen vote

Although some council members fear allowing chickens in Penticton backyards may not be all it’s cracked up to be, the city is moving ahead with a hen pilot project .

Penticton City Council approved an 18 month project allowing up to five backyard hens in low density single family areas in the city as well as the larger lot duplex zone at Monday’s meeting.

“Through the pilot program a wide variety of issues will be found and potentially put into a bylaw to allow that use,” said Anthony Haddad, director of development for the city.

Chris Remington, executive chef with the Penticton Lakeside Resort, proposed the idea of keeping chickens to the Agricultural Advisory Committee last summer.

His feeling being that other communities as large as Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver are doing it , so there is no reason why Penticton shouldn’t.

“The main point is that I have two young kids and I really think today’s kids are losing sight of where food comes from,” he said.

“So I am ecstatic to hear this news. I can’t wait.”

After a petition was presented to the committee with more than 100 signatures allowing residents to have five hens for the purpose of egg laying, with no roosters or meat chicken, the committee asked council in September to direct staff to look into the matter.

Staff  looked at the other cities that are doing it including North Vancouver, Terrace, Esquimalt and Saanich and their level of success. It also looked at cities that have voiced concern or tabled motions including Kelowna, Castlegar and Calgary and the issue of potential predators.

Among the detractors were Councillor Helena Konanz, who said residents already live in an area where it's easy to buy eggs and chickens are not needed in backyards.

But Councillor Garry Litke said there is demand for backyard hens in the community.

"I think a lot of people are getting back to the 100 mile diet and growing their own food, so this is part of raising awareness," he said.

The project will be finalized over the next four to six weeks, as staff finds residents who fit the criteria in designated areas for keeping the chickens, said Haddad.

The idea was pitched to, and rejected by, Kelowna City Council.

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