Disappointing news out of Ontario this morning. The city council cast a tie vote (4-4) which means the urban chickens ordinance allowing up to ten hens per household did not pass.
TheRecord.com has the full details of why the council voted the measure down, but the net-net is that the most vocal residents had their fears about smells and noise and rodents win out over the interests of the urban chicken set. The Mayor herself said she was concerned about the rights of "people who don't want to live beside people who have chickens."
What's most interesting about the Waterloo situation to me is that, technically, urban chickens were not outlawed prior to this council action. With no law on the books about chickens, residents of Waterloo weren't breaking any laws if they set up a coop. With the recent push to get them legalized, the council was forced to address the issue, and unfortunately, they chose emotion over logic and placed chickens under a bylaw regulating fowl, pigeons and other like birds currently prohibited.
This presents a bit of conundrum for those of us wanting to raise urban chickens in our backyard: if there's no law on the books explicitly dealing with chickens, do we raise our urban chickens in the grey area of "nothing tells me I can't explicitly do this"? Or, as the folks in Waterloo did, do we try to get our elected representatives to do the sensible thing and explicitly legalize small flocks of hens (no roosters) in our backyards.
If we do the latter, we risk what happened in Waterloo where the council seemed to be doing the correct progressive thing but instead took a surprise backward turn and banned the ability for residents to raise their own food.
What do you think is the better option? Living in limbo or forcing the issue?
EDIT (4/7 @10a): Just learned via the London Free Press article that "Residents who already have backyard coops will be able to continue the practice." This presents an interesting option for others facing a similar Waterloo quandry: build your coop first inside the legal grey area, then press to get the laws on the books and if you're unsuccessful, get grandfathered in.