Urban Hens Pilot Project

Photo of backyard hens

Edmonton's urban hens pilot project has been eggstended!

On March 7, 2016, the City of Edmonton’s Community Services Committee agreed with City staff to extend the Urban Hens Pilot Project for another year and to increase the total number of Urban Hen Keeping Licences from 19 to 50. The extension will allow the City to further study the potential issues and concerns that are associated with keeping urban hens. We will report back to Council in a year on the results of the extended pilot. The results of the pilot will help to ensure that there are appropriate regulations, care and management of urban hens in Edmonton. 

Thank you to all the residents who participated in the first phase of the Urban Hens Pilot Project, and to the River City Chickens Collective for supporting the project! For more details about the findings of the first phase of the pilot, please review the  report and attachments that were presented to City Council on March 7, 2016.

This initiative aligns with fresh: Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy, which recommends that the City “examine opportunities for citizens to keep bees and raise hens” (Strategic Direction 3, p.35) by “partner[ing] with local non-profits to assist in the evaluation of the implications of allowing urban backyard hens”.

To stay up to date on urban hens, please subscribe to our newsletter, Food In The City

Application Process

Thank you for the overwhelming positive response! We are handling applications for Urban Hen Keeping Licenses on a first come, first served basis. All applications beyond the number of licenses available will be added to a waiting list in the order that they are received. 

Step 1: Review the Guidelines

It takes commitment and responsibility to care for hens.

The City of Edmonton’s Urban Hen Keeping Procedures and Guidelines help residents understand what is required to be a safe and successful hen keeper in the city.

Step 2: Register for Introductory Course

Cost: $32.40

Next Course: Chickens 101

Date: Sunday April 24, 2016
Time: 10am-12:30pm
Location: Edmonton Room, Stanley A. Milner Library
Instructors: River City Chickens Collective


Each hen keeper must complete an introductory urban hen keeping course that is specific to an Alberta context. You will be required to take a competency test before the end of your first year (more details will be shared with successful applicants). It is also recommended that each Licencee have support and assistance from a recognized mentor for their first year of hen keeping.

Step 3: Submit Your Application

Cost: $50-$91 for a one-time development permit

*Note: additional building permits may be required in some circumstances.

To fulfill City of Edmonton licence and permit requirements, your application must include:

  • Certificate of completion (or equivalent confirmation of completion) of an urban hen keeping course.
  • Permission from the property owner. If you are not the owner of the property on which you plan to keep hens, please include a signed letter of permission from the property owner.
  • A site plan showing accurate property dimensions, the proposed location (or area if the coop is movable) and dimension of the chicken coop and run, and setbacks from the property line as well as from any other structures/buildings on the property (including the distance between the house and coop, distance between the coop and garage, and any other structures on site). Sample site plan
  • Proposed hen breed and number of hens. You must keep a minimum of three hens and shall not exceed eight hens per site. The recommended number is three to six. Roosters are not permitted
  • Proof of neighbour notification must be included in order to receive an Urban Hen Keeping Licence. Please print off the required number of copies of neighbour notification letters and have each neighbour* sign one. Submit all signed letters as part of your application. If a neighbour refuses to sign, or cannot be reached, please indicate that on the letter. Neighbour notification letter

*Neighbours are defined as the owner of each property abutting the applicant’s property, including those who live across a lane, but not across a street. In the case where neighbouring properties are apartment buildings, building managers are to receive the notification letter.

Online applications

In person applications can be made by visiting the:
Permits and Licensing Service Centre
Sustainable Development
5th floor, 10250 - 101 Street
Edmonton, AB T5J 3P4

Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday
8am to 4:30pm

In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

Step 4: Build Your Coop and Run

Approximate cost: $500*

*Cost depends on how you source materials. A coop and run built from recycled materials could cost $0, while one built from new material could cost over $1000.

Once your application has been approved, set up your coop and run in accordance with the submitted site plan and the Urban Hen Keeping Procedures and Guidelines.

Step 5: Premises Identification Program (PID)

As part of the Province of Alberta’s Animal Health Act, owners of poultry (including small urban flocks) must have a premises identification account and premises identification number for your hens. This requirement is a part of a traceability system designed to address potential threats of disease outbreaks that could affect animal health, public health and food safety.

Step 6: Final Site Inspection and Approval

Notify the City once all the above steps have been completed and hens have been obtained and secured. City Animal Control Peace Officers will inspect the site to ensure that all guidelines and requirements have been followed, and band and confirm hen breeds. Adjustments may need to be made if any significant issues are noted, prior to issuing a final licence.

Congratulations! You now have your Urban Hen Keeping Licence!
You now hold an Urban Hen Keeping Licence, on the condition that you pass a mid-term competency test (to be administered later in 2016). You are responsible to care for your hens and site in accordance with the Urban Hen Keeping Procedures and Guidelines.

Animal Welfare

You will be held accountable for the health and welfare of your hens. Failure to provide them with humane care could be considered an act of cruelty and could result in fines and/or charges.

Coop and Run Location and the Zoning Bylaw

Standard setback requirements are outlined in the Zoning Bylaw. As hen coops and enclosed chicken runs are considered as Accessory Buildings, applicants must comply with the Zoning Bylaw regulations. The Zoning Bylaw requires that an accessory structure be located:

  •  a minimum of 0.9m from a side property line, 
  • 18.0m from a front property line, and, 
  • 0.9m from any other buildings on the site. 
Staff will work with applicants to revise their plans to ensure the process is as smooth as possible. We understand the frustration of some of the applicants with regards to the time it takes for the review to be completed, but we cannot make a decision on applications that are incomplete; we would also prefer to work with applicants to revise their plans so that they comply with the Zoning Bylaw, as opposed to granting variances (if justifiable) and/or refusing applications

Waste Management

Manure must be removed, discarded, and /or properly composted to prevent nuisance orders. The City of Edmonton has resources and workshops on composting. Call the compost hotline at 780-496-5526 or email compost@edmonton.ca.

There is to be no on-site slaugher or euthanizing of hens within City limits. Removal methods include (but are not limited to) humane euthanasia by a veterinarian, relocation to a farm, or taking hens to a licensed abattoir. Deceased birds should be double-bagged and placed for garbage collection or taken to a veterinarian for disposal. All changes to flock size must be reported to Animal Control as a Licence requirement.


Poultry keeping is enforced under Section 27 of the Animal Licensing and Control Bylaw, 13145. Failing to comply with the terms and conditions of an Urban Hen Keeping Licence may result in a fine of $100, or a licence being revoked. Keeping hens without a licence will result in a $500 fine.


If you are concerned about hens on a neighbouring property, please contact an Animal Control Peace Officer by dialing 311. They will respond to your concerns and initiate investigations when warranted. The goal of Animal Control is to bring people into compliance by working with hen keepers, neighbours, and other external stakeholders to ensure they are addressed and resolved in a timely manner.

Essential Resources

Why Keep Chickens? Top Reasons to Keep Chickens and Chicken Myths Busted
Source: River City Chickens Collective

Raising Chickens in Alberta: a Guide for Small Flock Owners
Source: Poultry Research Centre and Government of Alberta, 2015

How to Prevent and Detect Disease in Backyard Flocks and Pet Birds
Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Protecting Your Flock from Avian Influenza
Source: Alberta Agriculture, 2015

For More Information

Kathryn Lennon

Sustainable Development

Title Principal Planner
Email kathryn.lennon@edmonton.ca