Fowl runnings

Josh Pennell
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Kelligrews couple told chickens have to fly the coop

Why did the two Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers and the Conception Bay South enforcement officer cross the road?

In what a C.B.S. couple feel was an unnecessary show of force, the three came to their door last week to tell the couple that they had to get rid of the three chickens they keep on their property in Kelligrews.


Chickens ordered removed from Stephenville property

Poultry potential

In 2011 the couple had eight hens they were keeping for eggs. They had them for two years they say without any complaints, but when they approached the town for a permit to build a fence and it was discovered they had the chickens, they were told they had to either get a permit or get rid of them. The permit process became beyond confusing, the couple says.

“There wasn’t actually a specific permit to apply for,” says Alicia Penney Harnum.

“They wouldn’t lead us in the right path and tell us what we had to do.”

When they were applying for the permit they had to put in the paper that they were looking to keep a few chickens to let the neighbours know, though she adds at that point their immediate neighbours knew anyway.

“I applied for them to keep them as pets, but they put it in the paper that I was applying for a hobby farm,” she says.

Alicia’s husband, Fred Harnum, says that when he was speaking to a town official about the permit process he was told that it had to go in the paper, but that it didn’t really matter if nobody in the area had an issue with it because at the end of the day it would be up to council’s discretion.

The permit request was denied and the couple appealed, but that also didn’t get them anywhere. Because there were no complaints from neighbours that they knew of and they never got any official letter from the town telling them to get rid of them, they kept the chickens.

“After the appeal, nobody came down. Nobody bothered us,” says Alicia.

They did relocate a goat they had for milking at one point. A couple of chickens died for unknown reasons and they also had a mink get in their coop. They have had at least three chickens for years and the same enforcement officer started coming to their door repeatedly over the last six months telling them they had to remove them. One evening he knocked on their door at 9 p.m. He carried no order from the town, the couple says, and they never received anything in the mail.

I could understand if we had 100 chickens here and we’re selling eggs. Fred Harnum

Last week the enforcement officer showed up with two members of the RNC to tell them to get rid of the birds. This time he did carry a letter from the town stating they had until March 11 to get rid of the chickens. It says if they don’t comply they could face a fine no less than $500, possible jail time of no more than three months, or both. It was the first time Fred had ever been home when the enforcement officer has come by.

“Other than me getting third-party answers from everybody else, I’ve never talked to this man about any of this. And then he shows up with two police.”

In St. John’s a household is allowed to keep three backyard chickens. Due to it being the weekend, it wasn’t possible to speak with anyone at the C.B.S. Town Hall about the community’s policies on keeping a few backyard birds, but C.B.S. Mayor Stephen Tessier did tell The Telegram it’s not outside the norm for the couple not to get anything official from the town.

“The enforcement officers would know the bylaws so I would imagine if somebody filed a complaint of some sort the enforcement would be there to follow up on it,” Tessier said.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that it would go through council. Enforcement is there to enforce the bylaws.”

Fred says part of the reason they moved to C.B.S. was so they could have a little more room and the freedom to grow some veggies and keep a few animal such as chickens that would help them become more self-sufficient.

“I could understand if we had a hundred chickens here and we’re selling eggs,” he says, adding that given all the talk about food security these days he would have thought keeping a few chickens would be something municipalities would promote.

The couple actually now only has one chicken they have to relocate. Since last week, two of the three have died of unknown causes. Their final chicken, Brownie, will be going to stay with some friends.



Organizations: C.B.S. Town Hall

Geographic location: Kelligrews, C.B.S.

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Recent comments

  • Jerry
    March 02, 2016 - 07:24

    And I though Spainards Bay was the only backward municipality ! This is an even more foolish council !

  • Matt Price
    March 01, 2016 - 11:30

    I've been living in CBS for 2 1/2 years now and have seen first hand how this town is trying too hard to be something else. This place was a farm town not so long ago and still is to some. Why do the powers to be think they have the right to force change once they arrive and all previous ways of life are no longer relevant? I enjoy going for walks through the town and seeing a goat in the yard, the tractors and some cows, I would guess that most people consider it to be nice scenery.

  • Leigh-Ann Payne
    February 29, 2016 - 21:23

    Completely ridiculous. They are in Kelligrews, not a city subdivision. If they want Chickens, or goats or whatever to have their family eating healthy without insane grocery prices, then I say more power to them. These enforcement officers need to find something better to do with their time than to harass these people, especially when no one was complaining. Who are they hurting???

  • brent
    February 29, 2016 - 18:15

    Unbelievable. has nothing better to do .do something about all thoes abandened falling down houses around town,that get used as hangouts and fire hazards,call the town about the ones on our street,you just get blown off. Someone has a chicken. ..your all over it.get your priorities straight.

  • Craig Lewis
    February 29, 2016 - 17:58

    First, Draft and submit to the courts and town that no Official from, any government department, is NEVER to step on your property, unless the home owner is harming another or another property. If neither happens, then there is NO REASON for anyone to be on ANYONE's Property. Second, you have a RIGHT to provide your own food, sell if it you wish so that once can provide and live. Third If you play in their system, you have to play with their Rules. Those rules are bias towards the Commoner, and they protect the Corporations and Greed of others. We are only growing 2% of food in NL. The main focus for NL should be Food Security, and we should be supporting small farmers. I'm personally build a 20-40' green house. I need to create work for myself, provide food, and help my community by providing cheap and better products that what the grocery chains. Soybey's made $23 billion last year. NL Gov $22 billion. Strange how 1 business can make more at the entire province. And people wonder why>

  • Kevin
    February 29, 2016 - 16:49

    In a time when the cost of healthy food is sky rocketing and the world is talking about Global Footprint and trying to get folks to buy local, within "100 miles" we hear of an Utterly ridiculous, ignorant, counter productive situation like this! The mayor and the council of CBS has to wise up to what is happening in other communities across Canada, North America, the Globe really. They should be an advocate for growing your own food like other modern, forward thinking, environmentally friendly cities and towns are doing. They need to embrace this movement, and change their current bylaws whereby supporting folks growing their own food and that includes chickens. I must add that I am so disappointed at the treatment this lady and her family has received over this situation not to mention the embarrassment this council and Bylaw office brought upon the town of CBS. I would hope in future they rethink any possible huge waste of taxpayer dollars (come on a Bylaw officer and two Police officers to battle 3 chickens do they not have bigger crimes to fight ). I along with the Many on social media talking about this will be watching closely!!

  • Joe Franks
    February 29, 2016 - 16:39

    Oh chickens, what will it be next, someone has birds visiting their feeders? Isn't that the same thing when you feed them daily? A much better use of the RNC would be getting all the expired plates off the roads that we all see multiple times a day. This also reminds me all too much of Animal Farm. The roles have been perfectly played...

  • R.O.K.
    February 29, 2016 - 15:29

    Sometimes it's hard to imagine the nonsense and ridiculous Town Council induced antics that have taken hold of CBS since we moved here 20+ years ago. There are now more Directors than the Toronto Maple Leafs and that record speaks for itself, to the chagrin of all of us ever lovin' fans. CBS has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Egos abound and as my friend from Bonavista would say: "das' no good f'er we".

  • Martha Steward
    February 29, 2016 - 15:13

    @realcalvin And so the answer is obvious, isn't it? Develop a taste for cats and dogs.

  • Dave Ringwald
    February 29, 2016 - 14:59

    I live in a major US city. You can have up to 6 chickens here (no roosters) without any permits. That's in a major metropolitan city with million dollar houses. That the country bumpkins in CBS won't allow regular people to keep a few chickens for eggs is laughable. I've been to CBS. It's a hole. A few chickens won't make a difference.

    • Matt Price
      March 01, 2016 - 11:07

      Stay in your "Major US City", you're too good to be in holes.

  • Craig Lewis
    February 29, 2016 - 14:45

    First, Draft and submit to the courts and town that no Official from, any government department, is NEVER to step on your property, unless the home owner is harming another or another property. If neither happens, then there is NO REASON for anyone to be on ANYONE's Property. Second, you have a RIGHT to provide your own food, sell if it you wish so that once can provide and live. Third If you play in their system, you have to play with their Rules. Those rules are bias towards the Commoner, and they protect the Corporations and Greed of others. We are only growing 2% of food in NL. The main focus for NL should be Food Security, and we should be supporting small farmers. I'm personally build a 20-40' green house. I need to create work for myself, provide food, and help my community by providing cheap and better products that what the grocery chains. Soybey's made $23 billion last year. NL Gov $22 billion. Strange how 1 business can make more at the entire province. And people wonder why>

  • Brad
    February 29, 2016 - 14:38

    What's the law regarding roosters? Cause my neighbour has half a dozen hens and a rooster that wakes me up at the crack of dawn every morning. I work shift work too, and the bloody thing is going off all day, so it's really hard to get any rest when coming off nights. He says that he needs the rooster to keep the hens laying, is that true?

    • Supporter or Rural Lifestyles
      March 01, 2016 - 12:09

      No disrespect (because I get how hard shiftwork can be), but maybe you should invest in some earplugs, or soft music to improve the situation instead of expecting everyone else to cater to what you need. A rooster is no more disruptive than a dumptruck, emergency vehicle, etc. Guess they can't operate either "just in case" they wake you up??

  • Masterwatch
    February 29, 2016 - 14:16

    What kind of country are we living in? The government presches. healthy living and the council demands this lady get rid of her chicken? With our province hovering on the brink of bankruptcy people should be encouraged to help themselves any way they can. This council should apologize to this lady and then resign!

  • chris
    February 29, 2016 - 13:29

    Since my friend Sid has free calling, he called from CBS to say how grateful he was for the protection offered by ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS. These people are on the job 24/7 and thy don't have any palatial accommodations with a gym and a million dollar kitchen along with sleeping accommodations. Do you know that once every 5 months these workers are so busy ,(especially at night) their coffee gets cold before they can finish it. Sid reminded me that there have been chicken on Kit's Turn for over a century. Two of the old dicks there crow every morning. Also, an immigrant named Ms. Blye has settled in the Kelligrews area , and she has a parrot with the foulest mouth that it could pass as a chicken. Ms. Blye, now in her mid 70's, came from Bryants Cove ; but they say the foul-mouthed parrot came from the Codroy Valley. Before retiring Blye worked a janitorial work which means she is quite handy with a broom and a mop. It might be a good idea to take along three or four RNC with you when you go to take that awful parrot.

    • Donna J.
      February 29, 2016 - 14:28

      Mother used to say no good comes from a Codroy parrot. 306

  • starr
    February 29, 2016 - 13:28

    Bit extreme! Don't these RNC and town council people have something better to do?

  • darby
    February 29, 2016 - 13:28

    ...and they sent ONE police officer to speak to Donald Dunphy........

  • The real Calvin
    February 29, 2016 - 13:16

    Cost of food in Newfoundland is getting out of control. So should we take this to mean if you try to set up a little garden for yourself with a couple animals you won't be allowed? People are allowed to have as many cats or dogs as they like, but chickens are a no-no? The Gram had a story about people keeping pigs as pets a few weeks back. Have they all been ordered to remove their pets? Something fishy about this story, would like to know who on CBS council has their knickers in a bunch over this.

  • Joseph
    February 29, 2016 - 13:04

    There is a guy on Roche street in the middle of the city with chickens in a pen on his front lawn..

  • Judie
    February 29, 2016 - 12:07

    The town of CBS do not have any right to prohibit pet chickens under it's current bylaws from what I can gather. Please check section 2.8 and you will see an "animal unit" is 125 laying hens. ( This is considered ONE "farm animal unit". If you do not have a farm, If you do not have a hobby farm, you are not keeping them for profit and you don't have 125 of them then they are pets. Tell the town they have no legislation to show up on your door with the police and they have every right to go ahead and take you to court where you can state your case. There are no regulations under their animal control either. ( If they did not send you a notice citing which bylaw you are guilty of an offence under then they are being bullies and I can't believe that the RNC would get involved.

  • Fellow CBS Resident
    February 29, 2016 - 11:33

    CBS always was a rural, "farming" community - just look at the town history. In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with raising and/or growing your own food especially given the rising costs and decreased quality of "grocery store food." Rather than tarring everyone with the same brush, why not allow the activity, even add a few conditions ie: number of animals permitted, etc., and then work with that party IF there are any problems down the road - isn't that what Municipal Enforcement should be doing anyway, rather than intimidating a resident/family with not one but TWO police escorts and talk of potential fines and/or jail time?? A bit much over a few laying hens don't you think???? If this order is a result of inhumane conditions, etc. then that is a different story, but based on what I read, it seems this is just an opportunity for the Town to take another of many power trip.....

    • Thomas
      February 29, 2016 - 13:32

      Have to agree. When our family resided in CBS we kept a horse, cow, chickens and a goat. Grew our own crops and had a greenhouse. That was the norm for many families. For these folks their first mistake was to go get a fence permit. In these trying times everyone should be encouraged, if they have space and can manage same to keep livestock and grow crops - just saying. Kelligrews was an excellent farming community. All they seem concerned about is how many houses they can cram in an acre and big box stores.

  • Get Real:
    February 29, 2016 - 11:18

    Utterly ridiculous! Imaging could face jail time because they have two chicken on their property. My goodness, if they went out driving drunk and even killed someone they would certainly get less time. If the two chicken are maintained and properly housed what's the problem? If the two chicken where committing a break into someone's property and stealing from them I could understand they would have to get rid of the chicken but if people commit a crime they are set free. For heaven's sake this must be another Newfie joke.

  • Bob Hallett
    February 29, 2016 - 10:14

    It would appear that cluelessness in municipal government is not confined to St. John's...

    • Bill
      February 29, 2016 - 13:50

      Not sure if we are getting the full picture unless something has changed in there recently. There are hobby farms scattered throughout CBS - including Kelligrews - all legit through the permit process. I am wondering if there were other issues that were not disclosed besides a lack of an initial permit.

    • CBS Resident
      February 29, 2016 - 18:50

      You can't possibly reside in CBS and/or have not had any dealings with this (or prior) Council....

  • mainlander
    February 29, 2016 - 08:49

    Why is this even a problem for CBS? Ridiculous.

    • CBS'er
      February 29, 2016 - 18:59

      Good to know our tax dollars are being well spent hey? And this is just the tip of the iceberg with that bunch.

  • Dolf
    February 29, 2016 - 07:53

    They've been advertising for chicken catchers up in CBS for over a year. Who'd have known they're available with armed escorts?

  • Eli
    February 29, 2016 - 07:19

    And all the while I was under the impression the CBS law enforcement just drove around picking up groceries and running a few errands either for themselves or council staff @ $70,000.00 each annually. I'm almost disappointed to know they're not only for the birds but have more pressing business to deal with.

  • gail
    February 29, 2016 - 07:05

    you got to be kidding right the town cop and two police officers showing up to get rid of a few chickens WELL what about all the IDIOTS burning TOXIC materials all over town at any time of day or night and at any time of year where are the enforcement officers then and it is more noticeable then a few chickens this rots me

  • Brian
    February 29, 2016 - 06:55

    It's a shameful joke how these municipal enforcement officers operate. Or, perhaps, better likened to some backwater hillbilly cops from Alabama. This is not limited to CBS and includes Paradise. These little Napoleans treat people like crap. As for backyard chickens. The rules are nebulous at best. There is no permit process. Both municipalities force fit people into a Discretionary Use process which means the town officials and council can make up any bloody reason they like. The biggest joke is how many backyard chickens are out there that the towns ignore. Ask the receptionist at the Paradise townhall who's husband has chickens. Or, the daycare a few kms from the Paradise Townhall. Their pet chicken went astray and ended up with the town, who promptly returned it to the daycare. Or the Deputy Mayor at Paradise, who's next door neighbor has chickens!

  • Bill
    February 29, 2016 - 06:29

    Absolutely disgusting behaviour by the town of CBS and in particular this bylaw enforcement officer. The first time he showed up to my house uninvited & unannounced I would advise never to come again or I'd call the police. I'd also tell those two cops that unless I'm being arrested for a crime or I've called them, to never come to my house. Ever! It is amazing that citizens tolerate this crap from city/town officials. People who think they are bigger than they are & think they can get away with bullying because they work for the city. This is clearly the town overstepping their bounds & just another example of how the permit system is outdated and more importantly an infringement on individual property rights. St. John's may have a messed up council but at least we're not totally backwards like those working for the town of CBS.

  • Amy Oakes
    February 29, 2016 - 06:19

    I can not believe what I just read! A family being harassed over producing their own food? Any town or government official should be praising this family instead of threatening them jail time! Unbelievable!

  • Political Watcher
    February 29, 2016 - 06:07

    It began with French moving to get farmers off the side of the road selling their fresh veggies and now this. It seems that CBS has no commitment to its agricultural past and its practices. I guess this is what happens when you have "Townies" who move for the "rural" lifestyle but would rather dictate what type of rural they want. I say to others, pay attention or else you will see others follow suit. You can have three hen is the centre of St. John's yet this lady can't.