Saturday, January 31, 2009

urban chickens on the QT in the Vancover Courier

Jeff Nield posted a great article in the Vancouver Courier exposing some of the illegal chicken-raising activity going on around town.

Believe it or not, if you're caught raising chickens in a Vancouver neighborhood, you face a possible fine of up to $2,000 and must give up your birds, to boot.

As with most other chicken-unfriendly towns, the populace of Vancouver are living under animal control bylaws that lump chickens in alongside all other manner of "farm animals": The bylaw states that you must not keep in any area, temporarily or permanently, any horses, donkeys, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, pheasants, quail, or other poultry or fowl.

No mention of dogs or cats, mind you. Nield reports:

The big fears about allowing chickens on city lots include unpleasant odours and noise, along with pest and predator attraction. Perhaps the easiest claim to debunk is that chickens are noisy. "Even the loudest hen is not going to be audible, when compared to a barking dog," says Andrea Reimer, Vision Vancouver city councillor and urban chicken supporter.

Ensuring odour, pest and predator problems stay under control is a management issue that would be addressed through education and training. The hope is that if someone is willing to take on the responsibility of raising backyard birds, they'd take these management issues seriously.

Luckily, the city's animal control office has no record of any resident being fined for keeping chickens illegally, but I'd imagine the penalty is enough to keep the timid on the sidelines and away from risking the fee plus forfeiture to get their own yard fresh eggs on a daily basis.

The most surprising stat for me in the story was learning "the U.K. has seen a phenomenal jump in the number of urban chicken keepers with conservative estimates that 500,000 households raise their own birds, and Omlet [maker of our coop] says coop sales have tripled in the past year. American cities as densely populated as Portland, Seattle, Arlington and New York have very strong provisions for the practice."

As previously reported in Urban Chickens in the Great White North, the winds of change are blowing in British Columbia, and I'm in hopes that more and more cities will legalize urban chickens as they realize just how beneficial the birds are to the localized food system.


Mo said...

My sister has a couple of chickens in her fairly small, urban backyard in the UK. It isn't considered a big deal over there at all.

James said...

Chickens for all that want them! Never give up, never relent. Give them nothing but take from them everything.


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