City approves first legal chicken coop

Kristina Calhoun didn't chicken out when the city told her she couldn't raise birds in her own backyard. She challenged city council in the winter of 2011 with a petition to allow her to do so.

Kristina Calhoun didn’t chicken out when the city told her she couldn’t raise birds in her own backyard. She challenged city council in the winter of 2011 with a petition to allow her to do so.

The city recently approved Calhoun for the first legal chicken owner in city limits when a bylaw officer issued her a permit last Friday.

It was a long haul for Calhoun. Bylaw officers gave Calhoun two weeks to get rid of her chickens in September 2011 or face a fine.

At the time, she had six female and six male Chantecler chickens, a “special” breed that survives in extreme cold weather, she said.

But when one neighbour complained to the city about the animals’ noise, she had to get rid of them. “They weren’t cock-a-doodling all day long, they just made these squawking attempts later,” Calhoun said.

She went to city council meetings thereafter on several occasions, with a petition and recommendations to push for a chicken bylaw that would allow residents to set up coops in their backyards.

Perhaps she should have been careful what she asked for.

The Animal Control Bylaw was changed last year to allow people to have chickens in their backyard, but it came with several conditions.

To receive a permit, owners have to meet nine specific requirements for a coop’s measurements, including being no more than two metres high, no more than 10 metres square, and meeting other demands such as having a roof and indoor and outdoor pen areas.

This summer, Calhoun decided to focus on meeting those criteria.

“I got steel beams and two-by-four construction (material) and I just really went to town on it. It’s a very solid structure and it will probably be here for quite some time,” she said.

Calhoun had to get 60 per cent of her neighbours’ approval beforehand to even apply for a permit. Luckily, she only has two houses beside her and both approved, she said.

She said it’s unfair that her neighbours never asked her for permission to do things in their backyard, such as “having two giant dogs or three dirt bikes or two snowmobiles. They can be doing things that are far more invasive of my enjoyment of the outdoors,” she said.

It’s a way for the city to pass the buck and let residents decide the matter, said Calhoun.

Coun. Dave Stockdale does not think it’s an unusual request. “There’s potential for smell and noise and people have a right in their own neighbourhood to say yes or no,” said Stockdale.

The regulation to have one nesting box per chicken was excessive, said Calhoun. “It’s just unnecessary, it’s like saying you need to have a different helmet for every week,” she said.

Indeed, in Vancouver, one nesting box is recommended for four to five chickens.

Calhoun also complained about the required two-metre height for the coop, as she has to hunch down to get inside it.

Stockdale did not know why the other requirements were so specific, but said that Calhoun can appeal to city council if she thinks the regulations are too tough.

She plans on making recommendations to council, but she is happy she’s officially the first “chicken lady” in town, which is what she was referred to throughout the whole process.

She’s passionate about the issue because people should be able to have access to food security, she said.

In the end, her battle with the city was worth it., she said.

“My chickens are pretty pampered compared to most of the chickens. They’re tame and they would let you pet them. They’re incredibly happy and they have a job.”

Contact Krystle Alarcon at

krystlea@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Eric Schroff, executive director with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, poses for a portrait on Feb. 20. Schroff says he is puzzled as to why the Yukon government is cutting back on funding for the association. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
YG cuts Yukon Fish and Game Association funding, tried to vet outgoing communications

Yukon Fish and Game Association says 25 per cent government funding cut will impact operations

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read