Saturday, March 6, 2021

Council says ‘no’ to urban chickens

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent will not be moving forward with allowing backyard chickens in urban areas.

A motion by West Kent Councillor Mark Authier failed on Monday night, June 29, 2020 during Council’s electronic meeting.

The vote was split 50/50, which resulted in the failed result.

Authier had requested that administration bring back a report to Council, along with draft corresponding by-law amendments, that may permit up to four chickens per single family dwellings only in urban and rural residential areas.

Authier was requesting to include in the draft by-law changes regulations regarding the keeping of the hens in coops, no roosters being allowed and that apartment buildings and multiplex homes be excluded.

During the debate, many Council members said they had received a lot of feedback on the topic, both for and against the motion.

Chatham Councillor Doug Sulman said he believed allowing backyard chickens would attract rodents and other pests.

“This is a real problem in an urban setting,” Sulman said.

“I’ve been told so many times in the last 20 years that Chatham-Kent is basically a rural area. There are lots of areas around here where if you want to have a house that is in a rural area and you want to raise chickens, there is great opportunities for that, but it is not in an urban area. It’s not about the person that wants their children to count eggs, it’s not about that, it’s about all of their neighbours.”

Sulman said the issue was brought up back in 2013 and was turned down at the time.

“If we don’t care about the facts and we don’t care about the studies, then you can come up with one of these kind of bylaws,” Sulman said.

“It isn’t appropriate in an urban setting. I think we’re really foolish if we do this. We didn’t do it in 2013 and now we have more facts that say not to do it.”

Three deputations from the public were read aloud during the meeting about the topic. Two of the individuals were opposed to the motion, while one deputation, from Chatham resident Ben Srokosz, was in favour.

“In recent years, Chatham-Kent citizens have become more interested in ways to be more sustainable, reduce waste, and know where their food is coming from,” Srokosz wrote in his deputation.

“This leads to a desire to be self reliant. Given current events, self reliance has taken on a whole new level of importance. At my home, self reliance means growing more of our own food, collecting rain to water the garden in an environmentally friendly way, and preserving what we grow to minimize waste.”

Srokosz some benefits to having backyard chickens would be to produce eggs daily for his household, eat backyard pests that attack them and his families garden, reduce the need to spray pesticides and eat kitchen scraps, giving them compost to grow more food.

“Urban agriculture is a trend that is gaining popularity, and what better place to embrace the trends of urban agriculture than CK?” Srokosz wrote.

Chatham Councillor Brock McGregor, who expressed his support of Authier’s motion during the Council meeting, shared his frustration with the outcome on social media.

“Just unbelievable that (Chatham-Kent) council won’t even get a report back on backyard chickens,” McGregor tweeted.

“Do we think they’re more dangerous than backyard campfires? Dogs? Cats? Pools? This can absolutely be done safely… and is done so even in the GTA. Are we admitting TO can out-farm CK?”

Currently, chickens are only allowed in rural areas in Chatham-Kent, as stated in the responsible animal ownership by-law.

“They are only permitted on premises zoned agricultural under the Municipality’s zoning by-law which meet the zoning requirements,” the Municipal website states.

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