Policy

Planning Committee Refuses to Study Policy Change (Again)

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 12, 2009

The Kansas City Star reports that urban chicken ownership is on the rise across the US:

The movement started with the rationale that raising chickens fits in with efforts toward local and pure foods, supporters say, and the eggs are fresh and flavorful. The animals also are entertaining pets, many say.

At issue is a petition by KC resident David Crupper, who is asking the city for a special-use permit to house up to four chickens in his backyard. He already owns the chickens and wants to make it legal.

Let's hope that Crupper fares better than Hamilton's David Thompson, who recently requested a change in this city's bylaw banning chickens with in the city.

The economic planning and development committee, demonstrating its tendency to refuse even to study whether it should change its policy, let alone actually changing it, denied Thompson's request to present a delegation to the committee.

Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, a member of the committee, was quoted musing, "I'm not sure we want to go down this road," but heavens forfend that we might make an informed decision not to go down the road of small-scale urban chicken ownership.

While our councillors keep their heads tucked safely under their wings, citizens are left pecking at the hardscrabble crumbs our barren public policy.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted May 12, 2009 at 16:26:53

CATCH also did a good job covering this as well http://www.hamiltoncatch.org/view_articl...

Key quote from their coverage "Any citizen can make a written request to speak to any council committee - although not to a full council meeting. It's rare that they are turned down, although that is permitted by council's rules of procedure. Most requests are from business representatives seeking exceptions or modifications to city rules respecting their property."

CATCH also points out that other cities that have changed bylaws to allow backyard hen raising include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and for Canadian precedent, Vancouver.

The councilor's refusal to hear a citizen would appear to do more with them being a citizen and not a business as there is really no good reason to outright dismiss the delegation.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2009 at 16:34:10

From the CATCH report:

"Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson suggested that council had no interest in changing the bylaw, so it wasn't worth hearing the citizen's proposal."

In other words, initiatives that come up from mere residents rather than down from politicians and planners are not welcome.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 12, 2009 at 18:50:27

I didn't even realize that this was illegal in the city. I guess I'll keep quiet about folks in my downtown neighbourhood who have owned chickens for years and decades.

I'm not entirely sure if a councilor from a region where it's illegal to hang clothes to dry should be the one in charge of decisions like this.

Regardless, Hamilton will do what it always does - wait until hundreds of other towns and cities have allowed urban chickens and then follow their lead.

Why lead when you can lag??

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By notadrip (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2009 at 22:35:09

Not to be a drip, but I believe Premier McGuinty banned bans on clotheslines, if that makes sense.

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By Why (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2009 at 16:47:27

Shouldn't he at least have said he wasn't sure he wanted to CROSS that road?

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