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In late 2014, the City of Edmonton began to implement an Urban Hen Keeping Pilot Project involving 19 sites. The goal of the pilot was to further understand the impacts of urban hens and to determine good husbandry principles within an urban context. Additionally, the results of the pilot project were intended to gauge the viability and establish a framework for a potential Urban Hen Keeping Program.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 Urban Hens Pilot Project extension will allow the City to further study the potential issues and concerns that are associated with keeping urban hens.  The results of the pilot will help to ensure that there are appropriate regulations, care and management of urban hens in Edmonton. We will report back to Council in a year on the results of the extended pilot. At that time, more information will be provided about future opportunities for urban hen keeping. 

Thank you to all the residents who are participating in the first and second phases 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”.

Application Process

Thank you for the overwhelming positive response! We have handled applications for Urban Hen Keeping Licenses on a first come, first served basis. All 50 Urban Hen Keeping Licenses have been granted, and we will not be reviewing more applications at this time. If you have already completed the introductory urban hen keeping course requirement, you are welcome to apply, and your application will be added to a waiting list in the order that it is received. In the event that any current participants withdraw, their spots will be given to applicants on the waiting list. We hope to be able to grant more licenses at a later date, once we receive further direction from Council. 

To stay up to date on the progress of the Urban Hens Pilot Project, and other aspects of fresh: Edmonton's Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy, please subscribe to the Food In The City newsletter.

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

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.

No future courses are planned at this time, as more than 50 urban hen keeping applications have been received.

Previous courses have been offered by the River City Chickens Collective. 

Step 3: Submit Your Application

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

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

Online application

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.
  • 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. 

     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. Neighbour notification letter
  • 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.
  • A site plan demonstrating compliance with the Zoning Bylaw and accurate property dimensions, including: the proposed location (or area if the coop is movable) and dimension of the chicken coop and run, 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

    Standard setback requirements are outlined in the Zoning Bylaw. The Zoning Bylaw requires that an accessory structure be located:
      • a minimum of 0.9m from a side property line,
      • a minimum of 18.0m from a front property line,
      • a minimum of 0.6m from the rear property line, and,
      • a minimum of 0.9m from any other buildings on the site.
    Our team will work with applicants to ensure that their proposal complies with both the Zoning Bylaw regulations and the Animal Licensing and Control Bylaw. Staff can also assist with site plan revisions if needed.

    If you have questions about the Zoning Bylaw regulations and/or Development Permit process for hen coops and runs, you can contact 311 and ask to speak to a Development Officer.

    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

    If you have questions about the Urban Hens Pilot Project, the Urban Hen Keeping Procedures and Guidelines, the status of your application, animal welfare, or complaints and concerns, please contact 311 and ask to speak to an Animal Control Officer.

    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.

    Poultry Manure

    Manure must be removed, discarded, and /or properly composted to prevent nuisance orders. The City of Edmonton has resources and workshops on composting that can support you. 

    Related Policies

    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

    Animal Care & Control

    • How to apply
    • Application status
    • Concerns about hens


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


    Development Services

    • Coop and run location and site requirements

    Permits and Licensing Service Centre
    Sustainable Development
    5th floor, 10250 - 101 Street
    Edmonton, AB T5J 3P4

    Hours of Operation:
    Monday to Friday


    In Edmonton: 311

    Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311


    fresh: Edmonton's Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy

    Title Principal Planner



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