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Oro-Medonte considering hen bylaw

Mehreen Shahid

By Mehreen Shahid, Orillia Packet & Times

MEHREEN SHAHID/The Packet & Times
The Kunej family is hoping the Township of Oro-Medonte will pass a bylaw that allows families to keep a small number of hens in their backyards. Pictured at their home on Shoreline Drive are Kraig and Jennifer Kunej, with their daughter, Elise.

MEHREEN SHAHID/The Packet & Times The Kunej family is hoping the Township of Oro-Medonte will pass a bylaw that allows families to keep a small number of hens in their backyards. Pictured at their home on Shoreline Drive are Kraig and Jennifer Kunej, with their daughter, Elise.

The clucking of hens might soon be heard in backyards in Oro-Medonte.

In a presentation in June, Jennifer Kunej asked township council to look into introducing a bylaw that would allow residents to rear chickens for the purpose of personal egg production.

"I want to raise a family that knows where their food comes from and respects animals, and in the morning go out and and get an egg and make an omelette together," said the Hawkestone resident.

Growing up, Kunej said, her dad hunted and fished, and her mother tended to a home garden, making her aware of the importance and concept of fresh food.

She already has a small vegetable garden on her half-acre property, but she wants to throw eggs into the mix, too.

"I'm not looking to keep a hundred chickens; maybe four or six," Kunej said, adding it is also about treating animals with respect. "I'm a teacher and I can see the disconnect with food in kids. They know that an egg comes from a chicken, but they don't realize that when they're buying eggs from a grocery store, it's coming from a large farm where chickens are crammed into a warehouse, and they don't know what they're fed."

In her deputation, she proposed residents have at least one-third of an acre in property, build a coop and be allowed up to six chickens at a time and no roosters.

With kitchen scraps serving as a feed option, and depending on how big a coop the residents choose to build or buy, payoff times could vary. In the meantime, Kunej looks forward to the learning opportunity the experience will bring her family, especially her 22-month-old daughter, Elise.

The township bylaws already allow hobby farms on land zoned agricultural/rural, permitting chickens to be kept on a property with a minimum lot area of 4.9 acres. But to allow egg-laying hens in backyards, the bylaw would have to include a licensing policy and rules so residents look after the animals and ensure the birds do not cause problems to neighbours - one reason roosters aren't allowed, said Mayor Harry Hughes.

"A lot of people like to buy things that are organic. That way, they would know where their egg supply is coming from," he said. "A lot of people are looking upon the hens not just as egg producers but as pets, too. The (question) is how can we have a bylaw that will consider that?"

Council responded to Kunej's request by directing staff to prepare a report and launch a bylaw process that requires the township hold a public meeting, inviting feedback before the matter is brought back to council for a decision.

A similar process is being undertaken in Orillia, and provisions allowing residents to have chickens in their backyards already exist in Severn Township.

A date for the public meeting in Oro-Medonte has not been set, but more information can be found at oro-medonte.ca.

mshahid@postmedia.com

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