Humboldt council rejects backyard chicken program

HUMBOLDT — Council is not moving ahead with a backyard chicken program due to concerns about a lack of popular support, disease and administration costs.

Councillor Lorne Pratchler said at the June 22 council meeting he applauded residents for coming up with ideas that can make the community better and different.

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Those in favour of the program argue raising chickens can be a fulfilling hobby that provides sustainable food in the form of eggs and meat, as long as they are properly cared for.

“The thing that intrigued me the most was the education aspect of it,” he said. “Working in agriculture, I've really noticed that there's quite a disconnect between those who produce the food and those who consume the food.”

He added that since it was announced the city was looking at a backyard chicken program, he’s run into strong opposition.

Councillor Roger Nordick told council he had the same experience.

“Everybody that I could talk to within the community that I've come in contact with, I’ve never had one person that was in favor of having a chicken next door.”

Nordick also said he’s concerned with the cost of enforcing the rules.

“This is one program that the more research I did, the more it appeared that it costs a lot of money to maintain and monitor this type of program, so that certainly was part of my consideration,” he said.

“I'm not sure that we have the capacity to monitor it at all.”

Rob Muench, Humboldt’s mayor, said he’s concerned about disease, referring to salmonella outbreaks in the United States the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) linked to backyard chicken programs.

According to a report released by the CDC on June 24, there have been 465 cases of salmonella linked to backyard poultry since Jan. 14, 2020. Of those, 86 have been hospitalized and one has died.

The CDC is advising backyard chicken owners to wash their hands with soap and water, have a different set of shoes when working with the poultry, don’t kiss the chickens, supervise kids around poultry, and properly clean any eggs collected, throwing away any that are cracked.

The mayor said the city and councillors did a lot of research and had a lot of discussion about the program.

“Although I like to look at Humboldt as being progressive in a lot of areas, I think we just had too many red flags.”

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