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Urban hen issue back at council Monday

A Hens 101 course will run this weekend ahead of the big hen vote Monday at city council.

The Grande Prairie Urban Hens Society has arranged for University of Alberta Professor Frank Robinson will be on hand to educate about 100 people who have signed up for the fully subscribed course. Urban Hens Society member Rebekah Keyes says it will be focused on “small flock urban hen keeping.”

“So, proper handling of both hens and eggs and some of the biosecurity concerns. Proper cleaning and maintenance of coops and how to maintain them in the winter. Also, what sorts of things to look for if your hen is sick or if you need some assistance from a vet.”

Keyes says not all of the people who are planning to attend will be looking to become urban hen owners right away should the city approve them. She says they also have attracted residents from around the region who are interested in learning more.

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The hen debate was at city hall in the past this summer and previously in 2015. Council will vote again Monday whether to allow backyard hens Keyes says she is cautiously optimistic about it.

“I have a lot of faith in the residents of the Peace Country and they’re pretty open minded actually, especially from our region. I think if people are confident that the right sort of guidelines and provisions are put in place [then] they’re willing to try something. I can really appreciate that.”

Keyes says a key part of the project is that they are seeking approval for hens only, not “backyard chickens” which could then include roosters. Keyes says this is also a way people can source their own food locally.

“One in ten Albertans are food insecure and one in five Albertan children live in poverty. If there’s a way that we can make local food more accessible then that’s a good thing. I don’t think that hens are going to save us by themselves but it’s one tiny piece of that puzzle.”

12 other municipalities around Alberta allow backyard hens. The issue will be before council Monday night.

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