By: Stuart Benson
Residents of the municipality of La Pêche will soon be able to set up hen coops on their properties after the council tabled a draft bylaw for the pilot project on May 4 and subsequently adopting the bylaw at an extraordinary council meeting on May 19.
Claude Giroux, municipal councillor for Ward 6, who initially pushed the project forward to a discussion at the urbanism committee, said that COVID-19 has accelerated the process of getting the project approved.
“Even before COVID-19, people wanted to do this, so I pushed it forward,” Giroux explained. “Then COVID-19 came around and it becomes framed around the issue of food security, and there you go.”
Mayor Guillaume Lamoureaux told The Low Down that residents have been asking for this ever since Gatineau allowed its citizens to do the same in March 2019.
“We first intended to include it in a broader mandatory review of our urbanism bylaw that follows the adoption of the MRC master plan,” Lamoreaux explained, “but the pandemic is raising concerns around food security and autonomy, and many citizens want to do more to participate in this collective effort.”
The project allows residents to keep a minimum of three and a maximum of five hens – no roosters allowed for the obvious noise issues – in a coop and outdoor enclosure on a resident’s property, allowing for residents to harvest the eggs the hens lay and providing a secure and sustainable source of protein.
Unfortunately for the budding livestock entrepreneur, under the bylaw, it will be prohibited to sell the eggs, meat, manure or any other substance produced by the hens — you can’t even have a sign indicating that hens are present.
While the bylaw has not been officially adopted, Gildas Vinet, a La Pêche resident, already has his coop built and ready to go; he just needs the ‘ok’ from the municipality to get his birds.
"Everybody wants chickens now, so it's hard to find them," said Vinet.
Vinet, who is an avid gardener with his own homemade greenhouse, is excited about the benefits the hens will have; not just access to eggs, but the quality of his garden as well.
“Having chickens ... allows you to compost and add nutrients to the soil,” Vinet explained. “It’s part of a natural cycle.”
Vinet said chickens are also good for reducing the tick population, and, if you have a mobile chicken run or enclosure, you can even use the hens to trim your lawn.
If you’re interested in setting up your own hen coop and would like to read through all of the rules and regulations required in the new bylaw, you can read it yourself, along with the minutes of the May 4, council meeting at villelapeche.qc.ca/en/diffusions/conseil/.