Launched in March 2018, the UrbanHensTO pilot program, which had allowed residents to have hens in specific areas and wards of the City, has now concluded. Households who had participated in the pilot will be permitted to keep their hens, until the end of the animals’ lives. The City will be contacting pilot participants with more information and any questions can be sent to UrbanHensTO@toronto.ca.
As directed by City Council, staff have conducted consultations on the future of UrbanHensTO and considered next steps for the program. The limited uptake in the pilot did not result in any significant issues since its introduction in 2018. However, given the considerable costs and resources required to safely administer a city-wide program and the emerging concerns of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), City Council adopted staff recommendation to conclude the pilot. The program formally concluded on May 12, 2023. Staff will continue to monitor the pilot’s wind down in order to inform any potential assessments of the program in the future.
During the pilot, hens were allowed in Wards 4, 9, 10, 11, and 19, and parts of Wards 2, 3, 8, 12 and 14. The following map shows the pilot areas and wards.
The UrbanHensTO pilot program has now concluded. Households who were registered to participate in the pilot will be permitted to keep their hens, until the end of the animals’ lives, as long as they comply with the terms and conditions of the pilot agreed upon registration. For example, hens are for the purposes of enjoyment and egg production and not intended as livestock to eat.
Households will need to submit information on their hens as requested by Toronto Animal Services so they are easily identified.
The City has the authority to inspect the property of participants if necessary and can revoke hen-keeping permissions if there are concerns about public health or the welfare of the hen.
Note: The UrbanHensTO pilot program has concluded. The terms and conditions that participants agreed to for the duration of the pilot are available below for reference
“AT LARGE”- Means a hen found at any place other than on the property of the owner of the hen outlined in their Urban Hens Pilot Registration Form.
“COOP”- Means a fully-enclosed weatherproof structure where hens are kept and the interior of which includes nest boxes for egg laying, perches for hens to roost on and food and water containers.
“EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR”- means the Executive Director of the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division for the City of Toronto and his or her designate.
“FRONT YARD”- means the area on a lot;
A. Between the front lot line and all front main walls of the building, and
B. Between the front lot line and a line extending parallel to the front lot line across the full width of the lot from the point where the front main wall of the building meets the building’s side main walls closest to the respective side lot lines
“HEN”- Means a domesticated female chicken that is at least four months old.
“OWNER”- Includes any person who possesses, harbours or keeps a hen.
The Owner agrees to keep hens only on the property outlined in their Urban Hens Pilot Registration Form.
Only residential properties are permitted to be registered. Neither apartment buildings, condominium buildings, nor properties without sufficient outdoor space to house the hens, as determined by the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards will be permitted;
The Owner agrees that the property outlined in their Urban Hens Pilot Registration Form is within one of the four specific zones participating in the backyard hen pilot.
No Owner shall allow or permit any of his or her hens to be at large at any time.
Where the Executive Director has taken possession of a hen at large, it shall be impounded for 24 hours after the date of its seizure. If the hen was seized on a day when the animal shelter is closed, the hen will be held for 24 hours after the time when the shelter is next open for business. During the applicable 24 hour time period, the Owner may redeem the hen subject to section 11.
If the hen is not redeemed within the 24 hour time period referred to above, the hen shall become the property of the City and the City may:
No Owner shall keep more than four (4) hens at any eligible residential property within the City. Only hens are permitted, no roosters may be kept.
Owners shall keep hens as pets and for personal use only. The Owner agrees not to sell or offer for sale any part of a hen or its eggs or manure or engage in hen breeding or fertilizer production for commercial purposes. No person shall give or provide a hen, a part of a hen, eggs, or manure to any other person or entity.
The Owner agrees to take necessary action at the Owner’s sole cost and expense to reduce the attraction of predators and rodents and the potential infestation of insects and parasites to the satisfaction of the Executive Director. Hens found to be infested with insects and parasites that may result in unhealthy conditions to human habitation must receive treatment in consultation with a veterinarian in a timely fashion. Non-compliance with this section may result in notice that the permission to keep hens in the City is revoked and continued keeping of hens will be an offence under Chapter 349, Animals, subject to the penalties set out in Article X of the Chapter.
The Owner shall ensure that hens are provided with access to clean water at all times, and shall ensure that:
The Owner shall ensure that all dead hens are disposed of immediately by the Owner in a sanitary manner at the Owner’s sole cost and expense. For clarity, such disposal may include disposing any dead hen at a livestock disposal facility, through the services of a veterinarian or surrender of the hen to Toronto Animal Service’s animal shelter.
The Owner agrees to ensure that all manure and waste is removed and composted or disposed of safely from any coop in timely manner.
Note: The pilot program has now concluded and according to changes made to Animals Bylaw, those who had participated in the program are permitted to keep their hens until the end of the animal’s lives.
The Pilot program was launched on March 2, 2018 and is being extended to May 31, 2023. If the pilot is not continued beyond May 31, 2023, the Owner agrees to take all necessary steps to remove the hens from their property and the City of Toronto after May 31, 2023. The Owner understands and agrees that upon notice, the Executive Director may revoke the permission to keep hens in the City during the pilot period, and continued keeping of hens after the date of such a notice shall be an offence under Chapter 349, Animals, which is subject to the penalties set out in Article X of the Chapter.
The Owner shall save and hold harmless the City, its servants, agents, successors or assigns, and ensure the same shall not be held liable for any injury, loss or damage, however caused, arising out of the granting of the permissions in these terms and conditions. The Owner further agrees that it will from time to time, and at all times hereafter, truly save, keep harmless and fully indemnify the City, its servants, agents, successors and assigns from any and all actions, causes of actions, claims and demands whatsoever which may be brought against or made upon the City, its servants, agents, successors and assigns and against all loss, liability, judgements, costs or expenses which the City its servants, agents, successors or assigns may sustain, incur or be put to resulting from or arising out of any act or omission on the part of the Owner, its servants, agents, successors or assigns which was done, or purported to have been done, in relation to the granting of the permission to keep hens or the keeping of hens by the Owner.
The Owner agrees to permit City staff to attend and inspect their property as deemed necessary by the Executive Director to assess and ensure compliance with these terms and conditions and any applicable by-laws, statutes or regulations. The Executive Director will provide reasonable notice before an inspection.
If the contact information provided in the Urban Hens Pilot Registration Form changes, the Owner will update the City forthwith. The Owner also understands and agrees that the City may contact me and provide information or official notices by mail or by email to me at the addresses in the Urban Hens Pilot Registration Form and any notice so made or given shall be deemed to have been duly and properly made or given and received on the day on which it shall have been so delivered or, if mailed, then, in the absence of any interruption in postal service in the City of Toronto affecting the delivery or handling thereof, on the day following three (3) clear business days following the date of mailing.
Any violation of the provisions of these terms and conditions shall be grounds for a notice by the Executive Director revoking permission for the Owner to keep the hens and ordering the Owner to remove the hens from the City of Toronto. Continued keeping of hens after the date of such a notice will be an offence under Chapter 349, Animals, which is subject to the penalties set out in Article X of the Chapter.