The chickens may come home to roost

Hen fan applauds Surrey’s plan to allow fowl on 7,200-sq.-ft. lots.

Kate McMaster with one of her hens. The Surrey resident  says keeping hens is a form of food security.

Kate McMaster with one of her hens. The Surrey resident says keeping hens is a form of food security.

A pilot program allowing backyard chickens in Surrey is now complete and it’s expected the fowl will soon be allowed to be kept on local property.

South Surrey’s Kate McMaster hatched the plan a few years ago and is glad to see it finally come to fruition.

The city tried several lot sizes during the pilot program. The recommended minimum lot size will be 7,200 square feet.

The plan was to go before the city’s Agriculture and Food Security Advisory Committee today.

Coun. Mike Starchuk, chair of the committee, likes the idea, but has a few conditions on recommending it to council. One of them is to limit four chickens per lot.

Another, Starchuk says, is to have the properties registered with the city, noting oversight groups want to be able access the properties quickly in case there’s an fowl-related outbreak such as avian flu.

McMaster lives on a 9,200-sq.-ft. property and is thrilled to have the pilot program complete and ready for legalization.

Thirty-four people registered for the program during the pilot phase.

“I am happy with it,” McMaster said Wednesday. “I think it’s high time it’s made a bylaw. As people can see, the entire city of Surrey has not been overrun by marauding chickens.”

Three years ago, McMaster created a  Surrey Backyard Chickens Facebook page, which now has 425 likes, and started up a local chapter of the Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK) in the hopes of legalizing not only her then-clandestine coop, but the many dotted all over the city that she had seen over the years.

“Food security begins in your own backyard and that’s where I am at with this,” McMaster said at the time.