About UHO

We are an informal volunteer group whose goal is amendment to City of Ottawa BY-LAW # 2003-77 that will allow city residents to keep backyard hens.

Originally known as CLUCK – Ottawa, we reformed with a number of new volunteers in June 2011, to become Urban Hens Ottawa (UHO).

Until just a few short years ago, backyard chickens were perfectly legal in Ottawa, as well as in many other North American municipalities. The place that prohibited that practice were actually relatively few.

But it seems the early 2000’s ushered in a trend toward bylaw standardization. And, as part of sweeping standardization, many North American towns and cities quietly chucked the chickens. Backyard hen-keeping, once very popular, had fallen out of favour many years ago so the new ban barely raised a ripple.

Ironically, however, the chickens were being squeezed out of residential backyards just as the homegrown, local and organic food movements were gaining hold and, within a few years of such bylaw changes, people in various town and cities slowly became aware of the new limitations.

Rumblings began. Groups were formed. City councils were petitioned. Many cities across North America, recognizing value (some would say wisdom) in allowing urban hens, have since repealed their ban on the birds.

Places that now allow small-scale raising of hens include:
Vancouver, Victoria, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Niagara Falls, Brampton, Guelph, Trenton and Kingston.

And now it’s Ottawa’s turn – let’s return to our roots and once again allow residents the pleasure of raising hens and the benefit of backyard-fresh organic eggs!

UHO is working to prepare a solid case for amending Ottawa’s animal bylaw to allow hens once again. Once all is in place, we will present our case to the appropriate City of Ottawa
Standing Committee. It’s our hope that the facts we present will be enough to convince the standing committee to make a recommendation to City Council to allow hens.

Please help it happen by voicing your support for urban hens to your city councillor – the more requests they receive in advance of our presentation, the better!

The information presented on this site is designed to highlight the benefits and dispel negative myths about backyard hen-keeping. Hopefully you will find all you need here to understand the rationale for urban hen-keeping in our city but if you don’t see the answer to your questions or fell we have missed something, please CONTACT US to let us know!

26 thoughts on “About UHO

  1. That sounds really awsome, I’d love to have chickens to be hanest I really want chickens and if we can make this happen that would be awsome.

  2. Hi there! I’m part of a new online publication called City Unlimited Ottawa (www.cityunlimitedottawa@wordpress.com) and I was wondering if anyone here would be interested in talking to me either about the struggles of housing hens in the City or whether they have successfully been able to coop hens. I’m new to the subject but interested in pursing it for the publication.
    Let me know if there’s anyone I can speak with – I’d be happy to send a private email to set something up!
    Thanks so much for your time,

    Emily Murtha

  3. Hi Emily. I live in Russell and have chickens. My partner and I are adding an addition onto his house so I can move in. Unfortunately I am not allowed to bring my hens in to the city. We are very very disappointed about this. Are you interested in discussing chickens, or chickens in Ottawa?


  4. I just visited my friend in St-Albert, (35 minute east of Ottawa) and he has a small coop with 10 chickens. I was impress of his small set-up, I didn’t smell a thing around the coop and there was a light smell once we walked inside is coop. The chickens looked healthy and they were great to watch going about their business. We talked about the care, maintenance and benefits of keeping these birds, which definitely sound like a hobby I would like to start. I can see many advantages of having a few hens in my backyard, fresh egg,great fertilizer, food processor for some of our kitchen scraps and all of this for a few hours a week. Come on Ottawa, please let us have some chickens!
    Philippe Gravelle

  5. Hi Philippe. I just moved to Ottawa from Russell, Ontario, where I too had a handful of lovely hens. My hens were amazing. So sad to have had to give them away :(.
    Common Ottawa, give us back our hens.

  6. We’re looking to buy a an acreage and build a home on it. If this rule doesn’t change, we’ll have to move out of Ottawa.

  7. It is inconceivable that the City of Ottawa continues with this city wide by law in light of the massive size of the city and many rural villages. It would be simple to amend the by law to match other progressive cities. Sadly there are no councillors even those representing rural areas thatcan see the value of encouraging self sufficiency. Cats are allowed to run loose and kill thousand of song birds but people are not allowed to have a few chickens.
    Come on Ottawa let’s be a little more progressive. Ask someone who knows about chickens to draft some guide lines to amend the by law.

  8. Been living in Ottawa for almost a full year now. Still no word on any change in the bylaw restricting hens in Ottawa. :(

  9. I would love to have two or three chickens as pets. If the law changes, I would get them right away. If anyone has a petition going, I would love to sign it. Maria

  10. With all the chemicals and GMO’s out there, buying food is a gamble. Why can citizens not be able to produce their own sustainable food source. I resent the fact that i am unable to try to provide for myself, and MUST rely on others for food. Should there ever be any type of catastrophe, most people could not survive anymore. Having a few chickens in the backyard, ensure that fresh eggs (hormone free) are just a few steps away. Chickens provide brilliant fertilizer for veggie gardens, and destroy bad bugs. If people were allowed to have hens, with regulations in which must be followed.. what is the issue? .. If people can complain about the noise, i am sure they could complain about the smell should someone neglect their chickens. Don’t punish everyone, for the few irresponsible!! At least allow us to try before removing our choice. I should be allowed to sustain my own food source. It is my right.

  11. Please keep me informed of your progress. I live in Laurentian Valley Township, surrounded by farms and would like to have our bylaw changed also.

  12. You have my support. As far as I’m concerned everyone needs to start urban farming on some sort of scale in order to sustain human life in the future. Let’s take a step in the right direction, towards a more holillstic lifestyle!

  13. Hi, I’ve been following this blog for over a year now, Does anyone know if the status of having backyard hens has been improved? Has anyone approached their Councillor to have this tabled to be an election item for this fall? We live in Ward 17 Capital and are planning to do so.We would be more successful if we had coverage across all the wards.
    April 30, 2014

  14. A chicken in every pot and many chickens on every lot!
    All antibiotic and hormone free is the goal for all to attain so as to have a healthy life. I too support this great idea for this would be a constructive change.

  15. Was transferred to Ottawa last summer. Coming from Guelph I guess we took for granted our progressive municipal government and were dismayed at the backwards attitude in Ottawa, particular when the world is going in the opposite direction. Ottawa should be taking a leadership role in matters of sustainability and this is clearly one area where it is not…

    We loved our hens! They entertained us, they educated our children and they fed us?…

    Bring back urban agriculture…

  16. If I could, I would own my own hobby farm, far outside of the city, where I would grow my own fruits and vegetables and raise my own animals. I cannot afford that for many reasons, hence, I have to live in the city. This should not force me to give up a perfectly viable source of food, leading me to procure it from less desirable, conventional sources. I should be able to produce my own food, which is healthier, cheaper and the production of which brings many other benefits like physical activity, environmental sustainability and promotion of local practices.

  17. Keeping chicken in Ottawa use should be allowed. It’s a sustainable option, very educating for families and can be a fun adventure. The reasons for not to allowing chickens in Ottawa are not reasonable and with some public demand, I’m sure this bylaw can be changed. (Note that Ottawa also had a bylaw against clotheslines just a few years ago. Thankfully, it was changed with high public demand). Don’t give up! You definitely have my vote!

  18. I’m quite interested to get involved with the front lines of this effort as well as helping near Ottawa farms with pastured eggs get to more customers.
    I look forward to hearing from you,

    Thank you,


  19. I’ve been doing some brief research on getting some hens and was most certainly disappointed when I found out that I couldn’t have my own here in our city. I was looking forward to providing this experience for my young children (both 3 and 4). Lessons of sustainability, lessons of animal care and lessons of good work ethic. This would have been a wonderful vehicle for all of these lessons.

    Keep us posted on progress,


  20. Hi,
    Look up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    The Right To Food Security- Article 25
    There was a case recently taken to court in Calgary in which a person fought to raise chickens and based this fight on this declaration. The city of Calgary dropped the charges against the person and are doing a pilot project.

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