Thirteen-year-old Emma Giesbrecht appeared before Langley Township council last month to argue for a bylaw that would allow backyard chicken coops in urban areas.

Teen brings campaign for backyard coops to council

Neighbour argues against call to permit raising of chickens in urban areas of Langley

A Brookswood teen brought her campaign to allow Vancouver-style urban chicken coops in Langley Township backyards to council last month.

“I’m here about the chickens,” 13-year-old Emma Giesbrecht told a Township staffer when she arrived before the start of the afternoon council meeting.

Giesbrecht came prepared with a written speech, computer slideshow and freshly-printed full-colour pamphlet.

She has also set up a Facebook page, “Chickens for Langley, B.C.” which calls for allowing backyard chicken coops in residential areas like the cities of Vancouver, Seattle and New York.

Giesbrecht delivered her pitch at a brisk pace, arguing that allowing a maximum of six chickens per residential backyard was “totally reasonable.”

Giesbrecht and the Otter Flying Feathers 4-H Club want a permit-based process that would allow 4-H members who don’t live on farms to raise chickens and rabbits at their homes.

Council made no decision on the suggestion, but Giesbrecht won praise for what Mayor Jack Froese called “probably the best presentation we’ve had [in some time].”

The proposal was opposed by Susanne and Scott Robb, who live near the Giesbrecht family.

Susanne Robb said they were forced to file a complaint with Township bylaw enforcement officers after the number of chickens in the Giesbrecht’s backyard attracted rats.

She said their neighbours started with four chickens, but the number grew to as many as 22.

“If you want to raise chickens … you should live on an acreage or a hobby farm,” Robb said.

The City of Vancouver approved urban chicken coops in residential backyards in 2010.

The bylaw limits the number of birds in a backyard to four hens, no roosters, four months or older.

About 100 Vancouver households have obtained permits to raise chickens.

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