I’m a libertarian at heart. As a rule of thumb I am very dubious of authority, believe in individual’s right to choose his or her lifestyle in every respect, provided it does not infringe on someone else’s person or property. What does this have to do with chickens? A good deal, apparently. Calgary is currently evaluating going ‘back to its roots’ and rescinding the bylaw restricting chickens on residential lots.
Why were they ever banned? Apparently for two reasons, one – to seem more ‘progressive’ (snort) and less redneck (fail), and due to lack of common-sense rules that created a sizeable number of nuisance complaints. So instead of implementing intelligent regulation, like a limit on a number of chickens per family, and removing the noisy roosters from the coop, they threw the baby out with the bathwater and prohibited all barnyard animals. And all I wanted for Christmas was a goat…
There are many great reasons why people want chickens in their yards – the joy of impeccably fresh eggs, teaching children about food production and animal care, not supporting factory farming, reducing food miles, the joy of producing your own food, the ability to recycle some green scraps and on and on. Since banning roosters, the noise is hardly an issue (a lawn mowing neighbor is multiple orders of magnitude louder, and so are my neighbors children), and even the poop from a small number of chickens can be used as fertilizer.
Of course there is such a thing as being a responsible owner, which means cleaning the pens with some regularity, not exceeding the allowable numbers, and sharing excess eggs with your neighbors, or allowing local kids to drop by and say hello. But people who want to take on the responsibility of raising their food generally tend to respect those concerns, and it’s no different than pet ownership. Most will be caring and responsible and some will not. In either case I don’t believe extra government intervention and regulation is the answer. I’ve kept a vague eye on stories of Seattle, Vancouver, etc. since their backyard chicken keepings and haven’t seen any horror stories to date. A few simple rules are enough for the vast majority of people to be good chicken raisers.
So c’mon Calgary, get with the times (again), and let the chickens come home to roost.