Monday, August 5, 2013

No Chickens For You !

There was an article in last week's local paper about a pair of urban farmers. They live almost in the downtown core of our town and they grow crops which are sold at a local farmers' market and to a few restaurants. They also own chickens....four chickens. The problem is that they have been given until August 19th to dispose of their chickens according to a town by law which does not allow livestock in the rural area. Apparently, the director of planning and development received "some complaints" about the chickens.

I learned that there was to be an open house, so being the curious person that I am, I attended. The street was lined with vehicles on both sides. I wasn't the only curious person in town. As I approached the property, I was amazed at the size of the piece of land.
The grounds, the gardens and the vegetables were fabulous...even edible flowers! I was impressed with the amount of time and energy which had clearly gone into this property.
I walked toward the hen house. I saw three chickens in a very clean enclosure and one very loud clucking chicken which was somewhere not visible. I presume she was the fourth hen a'layin. I spoke briefly with the property owner regarding concerns. Where there any issues with neighbours? Was there a problem with predators? Were there any health or safety issues? The responses were all negative, nonetheless, the city had received "some complaints".
Apparently, the city of Vancouver now allows residents to have four chickens in their backyards for personal slaughtering, no roosters, no sales, only egg production. Interesting. Unfortunately, this is not Vancouver and we have by-laws. I spoke to several people who said "years ago, everyone used to have livestock on their property." That was a different time. Those areas were not urbanized.
There was a petition available for signing. I left without adding my name. I have no problem with these four chickens. After all, they're not near my house. I am also in favour of sustainable gardening, organic foods and self sufficiency. The problem I had was here.
The wording of the petition suggested that the rest of the population of our town should be allowed to keep chickens if they wanted to. I have issues with the concept. Just because these men have a fine, clean property which is causing no health or predator problems, doesn't mean that this could not lead to complications if chicken raising were the norm. It would seem to me that it would also be a costly endeavour for the town to "police" the "responsible keeping of backyard hens." The wording is too vague.
So, if the chickens have to go by August 19th, hubby and I came up with two suggestions. Either the chickens which are considered pets should be kept indoors, or perhaps they could be "farmed out" so to speak to a property deemed rural/agricultural in the northwest part of town.

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