Cornwall resident petitioning council to allow chickens, goats

Mitch MacDonald comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 16, 2016

Rosalyn Abbott holds one her pet hens when she was a Summerside resident. Abbott had to give her three hens away when her family moved to Cornwall since the town doesn't allow livestock to be kept on residential properties.

©Submitted photo

Rosalyn Abbott seeking to allow small flocks of egg-laying hens, miniature female goats on residential properties

CORNWALL - Rosalyn Abbott isn't counting her chickens before they hatch.

However, the Cornwall resident is hoping public support will convince town council to take another look at allowing small flocks of egg-laying hens and female goats on residential properties.

An online petition started by Abbott has collected nearly 300 signatures after a resolution to amend a residential bylaw was turned down by council last fall.

"I was disappointed and didn't feel ready to give up on the effort. I thought creating a petition could show that there are other residents in Cornwall supportive of this kind of change," said Abbott, "In the town's official plan it talks about how important it is to maintain the rural cultural heritage of Cornwall and blend that with modern values."

Current bylaws don't allow any animals considered livestock to be kept in properties zoned residential.

Abbott's family moved to Cornwall about 17 months ago and were planning on keeping half a dozen chickens and several small goats.

They were previously living in Summerside, where they kept three backyard chickens after being granted a permit by council.

It wasn't until after buying their Cornwall property that Abbott realized they couldn't have animals on their new property.

Abbott said the change has been tough to explain to her three children, who helped look after the chickens.

"They didn't really understand why they wouldn't be able to have them especially when there's so much more room in our backyard," said Barton. "We have one acre of wooded property and live in quite a rural area of Cornwall."

Abbott said the town's planning board told her that rather than rezoning her property to allow for the hens, an amendment would have to be made to the bylaw.

That resolution was voted down 5-1 by council, with Coun. Elaine Barnes being the only one to support it.

Abbott said much of the concern seemed to stem from possible odour and noise issues.

However, she said most municipalities allowing backyard chickens do not allow roosters or intact male goats, which tend to be noisier, smellier and more aggressive.

"As for smell, its really easy to maintain a coop and pen if you clean it properly, we're looking at a very small number of animals," said Abbott. "Particularly in Cornwall, there are already agricultural areas that have an odour."

Many residents who've signed the petition have also left messages of support.

"I live just outside of Cornwall and I have a small chicken flock of my own," Reiner MacDonald wrote on the petition. "I know how expensive food has become and how animals are treated in large factory farms. I'd rather know where my food is coming from and what is going into my animals."

With no set goal for the petition, Abbott is hoping to get as many signatures as she can, especially from those living in Cornwall.

"I think this is something people are starting to take an interest in, not only because they love farm animals but because of rising food prices and a lower level of confidence in Canada's food distribution," she said. "It's also a way to teach children to be healthy and engage in their community, spend time outside and learn where their food comes from."