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Stephenville man pushing with petition for backyard hens

Jeffrey Young, left, wants to be able to raise hens in his Delaware Drive backyard in Stephenville with his three-year old son Gabriel, seen here in their home.
Jeffrey Young, left, wants to be able to raise hens in his Delaware Drive backyard in Stephenville with his three-year old son Gabriel, seen here in their home. - Frank Gale

Despite the Stephenville town council turning down proposed Urban Hen Regulations at their last meeting, Jeffrey Young is hoping to change minds of dissenting councillors on the issue.

That’s because, just like when he was young, he wants to be able to raise hens with his son Gabriel, who is three years old, at their Delaware Drive home.

While Gabriel has the number of 10 hens stuck in his mind to raise, his dad said he’d be happy with raising four – the amount that was proposed to council.

Young said Corner Brook and St. John’s have adopted regulations for backyard hens and you never hear any opposition to it.

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He attended the Stephenville council meeting where council turned down the regulations by a four to two vote, but he feels those with the dissenting votes are not educated enough on the issue.

Young said some of the comments made sounded more like what would occur if you were raising 30 hens rather than four.

Coun. Mike Tobin had said at the meeting that there are concerns about noise and noxious smells from raising hens.

Young said the only way you would get a smell from four chickens is if you didn’t clean up the coop after them.

“I think council members here should talk to mayors and council members in other places that have the regulations and find out from them how its working,” he said.

He said raising laying hens would also be educational for his son.

Young has lived in Stephenville since 2012 but prior to that grew up in Sheaves Cove, where he raised hens, starting out with three and eventually getting up to 30 in the six years that he was at it.

He said not only did his immediate family have fresh eggs all the time, but he used to sell quite a few of them to extended family and friends. Near the end he even had strangers coming looking for them.

Young has set up an online petition that he plans to present to the Stephenville town council when he gets enough signatures.

He was surprised that in less than a day there were already 81 signatures.

“I didn’t realize we (people who want to raise backyard hens) would get that much support so quickly,” Young said.

He said the way the Town of Stephenville’s current by-law is written, chickens are not allowed. Young said he’s asking that council consider changing this by-law to allow backyard chickens in the town of Stephenville year-round with reasonable conditions similar to other area communities.

During the meeting, both Mayor Tom Rose and Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow both spoke in support of the Urban Hen Regulations.

Online petition link:

Town of Stephenville Development Regulation on farm animals:

36. Agriculture and Livestock

(4) Large livestock, such as horses and cattle and smaller livestock, such as goats, ducks or chickens, whether or not these are viewed as pets, are classed as livestock, an agricultural use that falls within the agricultural use class. See also Schedule A – Definitions – Livestock.

Town of Stephenville Development Regulations Schedule A

Agriculture means horticulture, fruit growing, grain growing, seed growing, dairy farming, the breeding or rearing of livestock, including any creature kept for the production of food, wool, skins, or fur, or for the purpose of its use in the farming of land, the use of land as grazing land, meadow land, osier land, market gardens and nursery grounds and the use of land for woodlands where that use is ancillary to the farming of land for any other purpose. "Agricultural" shall be construed accordingly.

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