Cock-a-doodle-doo? Maybe not.

Chickens might be permitted in your back yard, but roosters might be another story.

As the popularity of backyard chickens grows, Champlain Township will be looking into possible regulation of backyard chicken coops and that will include due consideration to roosters.

Council opted to have staff look into what is in place in other municipalities in Prescott-Russell, prior to engaging its planner (J. L. Richards) to prepare a chicken coop program. The consulting firm is filling in as the township’s temporary planner while its current planner is on maternity leave.

West Hawkesbury ward councillor Gerry Miner was the first to suggest that municipal staff review existing chicken coop bylaws–if any–in other Prescott-Russell municipalities.

“I think staff should dedicate time to doing a preliminary study,” Miner said. He had earlier suggested that staff make six or seven phone calls to other municipalities.

“I have clients from all over and I know one Quebec municipality which allows hens but not roosters,” said Miner.

Longueuil ward councillor Michel Lalonde agreed that the issue requires a bit of research. While it is one thing to permit hens and roosters in rural areas, it is quite another thing to permit roosters, for example, in more densely-populated residential areas, Lalonde pointed out.

The discussion stemmed from a memo from senior planner Jennifer Laforest suggesting that the township consider introducing a chicken coop program.

The township does not currently have a dedicated bylaw allowing for chicken coops in residential areas. A chicken is currently considered to be a “livestock unit” and like goats, horses and sheep, chickens are only permitted as part of hobby farms in rural or agricultural areas where farm buildings and barns are permitted uses.

The report to council mentions that during the past five years, other rural municipalities have adopted chicken coop bylaws and permit systems specifically designed to allow a limited number of chickens (hens) in residential areas. Considerations as they relate to special regulations for residential chickens include:

– a review of best practices (considerations for location, number of chickens, neighbour notification, location of coops, surrounding land use)

– public consultation

– scope of pilot programs

– application process

– impact internal resources and

– enforcement and monitoring.