By Ryan McGreal
Published January 16, 2012
Last Thursday, City Councillors in the planning committee voted to direct staff not to investigate the possibility of allowing backyard chickens. This isn't the first time Councillors have shied away from even considering whether to revisit the city's ban on urban hens.
Once again, it is Councillor Lloyd Ferguson behind the push to take chickens off the table without even bothering to find out whether the current policy still makes sense.
"At the end of the day," Ferguson is quoted saying in the Spectator, "we're just going to shut it down anyway. There are health risks, there are rodent risks, there are odour issues."
Except that the city's own public health department is saying chickens pose no greater risk than cats or dogs.
Kudos to Councillor Jason Farr for trying to revisit this issue, but shame on the rest of the planning committee for refusing to get informed before deciding to leave the ban in place.
One Hamilton resident isn't content to let the matter rest. Teresa Gregario has organized a petition calling on City Council to stop ducking the issue.
Backyard chickens allow for fresh, extremely local food production on a small, manageable scale. The reasons cited for banning these animals from within city limits are unfounded. They pose no greater health risk than cats and are not anywhere near the noise disturbance of dogs. Responsible pet ownership makes urban chickens not only efficient food producers, but sensible animals to allow within the city limits of Hamilton, Ontario.
As at this writing, the petition has 219 signatures (disclosure: one of them is mine).