Urban Hen Bylaw

Photo of 3 brown chickens on grass, text: become a hen keeper in strathmore

This is an exciting opportunity for residents that wish to raise chickens. The Urban Hen Bylaw - 22-08 was passed by Council on May 18, 2022.  The bylaw allows for residents in Strathmore to keep up to four hens for personal use. If you'd like to keep hens on your property, read bylaw 22-08 before you start the process. 

Get Cracking

Complete these steps before applying for your Urban Hen License. 

1. Read Bylaw 22-08 here. If you have question about the bylaw please reach out to Municipal Enforcement by calling 403-361-2112 or fill out a Citizens Communication form here

2. Talk to your neighbours. Although there's no formal paperwork, Hen Keepers are still required to let their neighbors know they'll be applying for a Hen License. You only have to inform adjoining properties of your intent to house hens; neighbours that live across the back lane aren't required to be notified. Your neighbour may not want to or have a reason to appeal your Urban Hen License, but notifying them is the neighbourly thing to do!

3. Obtain a Premises Identification Number (PID). The Premises Identification Program was established to plan for, control, and prevent the spread of animal diseases. It's also used as an early warning system to notify animal owners of a natural disaster such as a flood or fire that could affect their animals. Learn more about your PID and apply here

4. Get informed. Demonstrating that you're a knowledgeable Hen Keeper is also required for your Urban Hen License application. It's important to fully understand all that goes into caring for healthy hens prior to housing them, especially if this will be the first time you've cared for chickens. Completing an informational course ensures that you'll be prepared for your new feathered friends, and standardizes the quality of hen care in Strathmore. 

Courses are available online from River City Chickens and from Alberta Farm Animal Care. You can also read the Alberta Farm Animal Care Urban Hen Manual here. 

photo of 4 brown chickens in a pen, text: a healthy hen is a happy hen

5. Build your hens a home. Your coop must have at least 0.37 square meters of interior floor area and at least 0.92 square meters of  "run" or outdoor area. The coop-run must be fully enclosed. Additionally there must be a minimum of one nest box for every three hens. Coops must follow the regulations for accessory buildings as set out in the Land Use Bylaw (read the land use bylaw here). Learn more about accessory buildings and setbacks below. 

Choosing an Egg-cellent Coop Location

Setbacks ensure that accessory buildings, like your chicken coop and run, are not built too close to a neighbouring property and don't block access points. 

Setback - the distance that a development or a specified portion of a development is setback from a property line.

Accessory Building - a building which, in the opinion of the Approving Authority, is naturally or normally incidental and subordinate to the principal use or building located on the same site. This use includes private detached garages, private swimming pools, private sheds or greenhouses and of course your chicken coop.

Accessory buildings are not permitted in front of your home. You may build an accessory building in your side yard so long as it has a setback of at least 1.2m from the property line. This leaves enough space for emergency services or those with accessibility needs to access the backyard. Unless you have a large amount of space in your side yard, it's recommended that you build your chicken coop and run in your back yard. Accessory buildings in backyards must have a setback of at least 0.6m from the side and back property lines. 

diagram of a yard with the appropriate setbacks labeled for a chicken coop. A setback of .6 meters is required from the property line.

Applying for Your Hen Keeper License

To obtain your license you will need to present the following:

  • Contact information for the Hen Keeper and temporary Hen Keeper
  • Evidence that you have notified your adjoining neighbours
  • Evidence of successful completion of Hen Keeper's course
  • A copy of a Certificate of Title for the subject property, issued by the Land Titles and written permission from the registered owner of the subject property.  If you're not the owner of the subject property, the Certificate of Title will need to be accompanied by a letter from the registered owner granting permission.
  • A site plan that includes a drawing of the coop run dimensions and setback measurements
  • A copy of the Premises Identification Number (PID)
  • Payment for the $50.00 licensing fee

If all of the above have been deemed satisfactory by the licensing officer, an Urban Hen License will be granted for a one year period. 

Urban Hen Application Form

Don't Run Afoul!

  • You must house at least two hens and no more than four. 
  • Chickens must be female (hens). No roosters are permitted. 
  • Hens must be at least 16 weeks old to live on your property. This ensures that gender can be determined accurately, and increases the chances that the hens will survive to adulthood.
  • Hens cannot be slaughtered or euthanized on your property. Hens that have passed away cannot be disposed of in your green or black cart. Hens can be disposed of at a veterinarian office, abattoir, or farm. 
  • The Urban Hen Bylaw is a two-year pilot project, beginning June 1, 2022. Should the pilot project not continue after this two-year period, Hen Keepers will have 90 days to rehome their hens. 

Appeals

Adjoining neighbors can appeal an Urban Hen License if they feel that having hens nearby may adversely affect their health, or the health of someone living in their home. 

Appeals must be in writing, addressed to the Chief Administrative Officer, and filed no more than 14 days after the neighbor has received their Urban Hen License. 

Learn more about appeals in Section 7 of the Bylaw, or call Municipal Enforcement, 403-361-2112 if you have questions. 

Questions? 

Please contact Municipal Enforcement at 403-361-2112 or fill in a Citizens Communication Form if you have a comment, concern, or question about the Urban Hen Bylaw.

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