What’s the Cluck About ?


Thomas Schneider owns four chickens and believes the district shouldn’t have banned chickens in the first place.

By Jessica Butler
Published: Nov. 29, 2014

Thomas Schneider is a devoted food grower. He also owns four chickens and believes it was ridiculous for the district to have a bylaw that restricted chicken.

Allowing chicken for him isn’t just about keeping them as pets; it’s about creating business in terms of bird sanctuaries, meat processing and education. 

“We don’t have regulations on how to have a pet hamster, cat, dog or anything like that.  There is no difference with chickens,” he wonders as the chickens happily cluck away.

“I think its fear based and people just don’t have a clue about what it’s like to have chickens.”

Backyard chickens created quite a debate around the community due to several concerns that were brought forward. Now that the by-law has been passed this summer, very little has changed.  

“This is what bothers me with city hall, it became a big issue and the council spent a fair amount of time talking about chickens. Really? Why are we doing this?” says Coun. Ted Prior.

On May 20 this year, council amended the bylaw to allow backyard chickens, a decision that can bring joy or unease depending on your perspective.

For, Pam Isbell, it will feel like a relief. Four years ago, she had pleaded with the council to let her keep her hens, Rosy and Daisy, at her Fourth Ave home.

She had the hens for two years, but a bylaw officer had spotted them while chasing a dog through her backyard. She received a letter from the district asking her to get rid of the hens or pay a $200 a day penalty.

At the council meeting in May, Isbell told the council they were making the right decision. However, some community members are still concerned.  Although they are not necessarily against the public owning and caring for backyard hens, their main concern is that many people may be ill prepared for the considerable work, time and finances needed to provide good welfare for their hens. 

Marika Donnelly, SPCA brand manager said she would be concerned about the inevitable but ‘unwanted’ hens that could arise if a large number of residents each owned a flock. 

“Unfortunately, a solution for that is not in place,” she said.

Tracy Robertson, owner of Stony Mountain Farm, has been raising chickens since 2008 and turkeys since 2011, as well as meat birds since this year. Her main concern is disease, since disease in chickens is usually airborne and could affect her farm and livelihood. 

“I have a premises identification number, which means that ministry of agriculture knows I have these types of birds and I could have everything forced called even if they weren’t sick.”

Meg Toom, the WildSafeBC coordinator, said Squamish remains one of the top communities for bear related calls. She said two bears and one cougar have been destroyed in chicken related calls.

She said that any wildlife that is found hunting chickens will be destroyed not relocated.

Coun. Doug Race said it’s dumb to allow backyard chickens in Squamish, a community that has invested heavily in being Bear Smart.

“This is dump and stupid,” he said.

“It’s completely inconsistent with what we have to done in the last 10 years to be wildlife safe.”

For more info on the by-laws on having chickens please go to: http://www.squamish.ca/our-services/animal-control/urban-hens/


  1. Dave Colwell says:

    Thomas: Don’t be selfish. If want to live in a town, follow the rules or move to a farm in a truly rural zoned area. I was raised on a farm which had chickens for commercial purposes. You have heard the argument from the bear conservation people but you choose to ignore.. You have heard all the other arguments concerning neighborly rapport but you choose to ignore these too, no doubt. Otherwise be content with your four or five chickens and stroke them every day. And find another way to make money. Good egg collecting for your breakfasts!

  2. heather gee says:

    Now that the municipality has strict standards on the housing of back-yard chickens, there shouldn’t be any more wild-life attacks. So hopefully, they are strong chicken coops which will protect any loss of the hens.
    Some have included electric-wiring to protect their little flock.
    I’ve been fortunate to have two Silkies in the distant past. They provided the most wonderful fresh eggs and cleared the garden of all pests.